Marengo County EDA looks to future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LINDEN &8212; After less than a year of planning and assistance from steering and advisory committees made up of local leaders and citizens, the Marengo County Economic Development Authority assembled and held business for their first session last week.

Dr. Ken Tucker, who has helped to spearhead the effort, kicked off the meeting by describing the process of creating this new authority, whose mission is to both retain and expand industry in the county.

One of the main concerns when discussing a structure, Tucker said, was to ensure each municipality was represented based on both their geography and demographics as well as their financial contribution. The finances for the organization range from $50,000, an amount that was donated by both the county commission and the City of Demopolis, to less than $1,000 from some of the smaller areas.

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According to Tucker, the other important factor to the success of the board is the strength of its bylaws, which were adopted by all the participating municipalities and also passed by the authority itself.

In addition to provisions for how to conduct meetings and create committees, Tucker identified a passage in the bylaws intended to give the authority the power to remove someone by a majority vote. Tucker pointed out the recent issues with the E-911 board, saying this kind of authority needed to be &8220;active&8221; and &8220;action-oriented.&8221;

After adopting the bylaws, the board elected its officers and executive committee, which consists of the chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and two at large members. The board voted Kathryn Friday, who was appointed by the Linden City Council, as chairman; Jay Shows, who was appointed by the County Commission, as vice chairman and Josephine Hall, who was also appointed by the County Commission, as treasurer. The two at large members elected were Andrew Williams, who was appointed by the County Commission, and William Martin, who was appointed by the Demopolis City Council.

Another issue at play with the authority, as Friday pointed out, is money. Currently the authority will operate on donations from each municipality in addition to a one-time grant from the Linden Industrial Development Board, but ultimately the authority will run off a combination of public and private funds.

The next task at hand for the authority is to begin the search process for an executive director. According to Tucker, there have been already several professionals to express interest in becoming the new director.

An ad-hoc committee made up of Chuck Smith, John Laney, Arthur Dixon and Jennifer Jones are expected to have prerequisites and other information for the position at the next meeting on Feb. 7.