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Development study tops commissioners agenda


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 10, 2018

Two entities tasked with creating a public-private partnership model to boost local job creation and community growth will present their findings to three of major players in economic development on Monday.

Representatives with Convergent Nonprofit Solutions and Creative Economic Development Consulting will begin a series of meetings at 9 a.m. with the Pitt County Board of Commissioners.

Convergent was hired earlier this year to study how a public-private partnership could be created to improve economic development activities within the county. Creative Consulting was brought to produce a recommendation for developing the governing body of such a partnership and recommend the staffing model for such as organization.

The Board of Commissioners, Greenville City Council, Greenville Utilities Commission and the Committee of 100, a nonprofit group that provides capital funding for economic development, paid Convergent Nonprofit Solutions to develop a plan to streamline the multiple economic development agencies in Pitt County and its municipalities.

In July, Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott updated his board on the study, presenting them with a draft proposal that recommended creating a nonprofit organization that would combine the economic development staffs of participating entities. The entity would be governed by a board with members from the county, Greenville, Greenville Utilities Commission, the Committee of 100, other local governments and individuals from the private sector. All would provide funding for the alliance.

In August, several county commissioners said they were skeptical about the proposal. Commissioners Beth Ward and Tom Coulson said they thought the proposed nonprofit would allow the city to usurp the county’s authority over economic development by minimizing its input on the new board. There also was concern that the county, which funds the development commission and its projects with revenues generated by a dedicated property tax of seven-tenths of a cent per $100 of assessed value, would lose control over that money.

The Board voted 5-3 during its Aug. 6 meeting to direct the Pitt County Development Commission board to begin searching for a new director to replace current executive Wanda Yuhas who is retiring next spring.

After the Board of Commissioners meeting, the team will give another presentation at 12:30 p.m. to the Pitt County Development Commission, which is holding a special session in the development commission board room, 111 S. Washington St.

The Greenville City Council will receive a presentation at 4 p.m. during its pre-meeting workshop in the third floor conference room of Greenville City Hall.

During discussions about funding the study, some Greenville City Council members expressed concern about investing in another study. District 1 Councilwoman Kandie Smith said she was concerned about the cost and redundancy of commissioning another study, as did Mayor P.J. Connelly who said he agreed with her but thought sharing the cost guaranteed a needed partnership between community stakeholders.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.