Sanford-Lee Partnership for Prosperity moving forward

Feb. 23, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

With its CEO search and fundraising campaign officially under way, Lee County’s new economic development organization is steadily progressing.

Applications to lead the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity — which merges the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lee County Economic Development Corporation — are due at the end of March, and the organization has contracted with Convergent Nonprofit Solutions to lead its private fundraising campaign, according to interim EDC Director Crystal Morphis.

“In general, I continue to be very optimistic about the merger with the EDC and Chamber, and the level of commitment from elected leaders,” she said. “The public sector and private leaders are working toward a strong collaboration for this new organization.”

Convergent completed its fundraising feasible study at the end of 2013, and determined that anywhere from $900,000 to $1 million could be raised from private coffers for the economic development group. Now, Convergent has been hired to solicit the funds, Morphis said, and the process should be completed in four to six months.

There has also been significant interest in the organization’s top spot, with several submitted resumes in hand, she said.

“We expect this level of interest to continue as we near the March 21 deadline,” Morphis said.

In the interim, the organization's steering committee — which consists of government, business and community leaders — is narrowing down and revising the group’s program of work.

“The core areas of the program are forming to be business recruitment and marketing, education and workforce development and existing business retention and expansion," Morphis said.   

Entrepreneurship, agribusiness and a visitors center will also be areas of emphasis, she said.

Chamber President Bob Joyce said there is still some "time-consuming" work to be done, but the group is making clear progress.

"We are revising the program of work," he said. "I think it will be more focused and stronger."

The steering committee will meet in early March, and both Morphis and Joyce said they are on target for the organization to begin operations Jan. 1, 2015.