Presentation shows Partnership for Prosperity making progress

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Lee County’s new economic development organization will only be successful if the public and private sectors pledge their full support.

This was the rallying call of the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity — which merges the Lee County Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce — made during a presentation by its leaders during the Sanford City Council’s Law and Finance committee meeting Wednesday. The organization is in the middle of its $1 million to $1.25 million fundraising campaign.

“We are excited,” said Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, who also serves on the Partnership’s steering committee. “This council has adopted an open-for-business agenda, and I think that open-for-business agenda is starting to slip through the entire community. People are embracing it.”

Mann said he asked for the presentation because he wanted council to receive the same information that is now being touted to business leaders.

Kirk Bradley, co-chairman of the Partnership’s fundraising committee, said the organization has met more than 30 percent of its goal, and he anticipates the group reaching its full amount by midsummer. The new organization also is in the middle of hiring a CEO, and more than 70 applications have been whittled down to nine, he said.

Mann said this is one of the first times the city and the county have been working together, and the new organization needs to capitalize on this momentum.

“We are a city under revitalization,” he said. “We are a rural town that is now moving toward an urban city setting. We are undergoing urban revitalization.” 

The individual economic development groups were doing many things right, said EDC Board Chairman Donnie Oldham, but the new organization will have a greater scope of work.

“How we got to where we are with the new group is a little bit of luck, a little bit of push and a lot of vision and hard work,” he said.

The new organization will be tasked with a variety of projects, including recruiting new business, maintaining current businesses, serving as a visitor’s bureau and workforce development.