Outline coming for EDC, Chamber merger

Sep. 29, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

The creation of a new organization charged with the county’s economic development will be one step closer to completion by the week’s end.

The draft program of work for the new group — which will include the Lee County Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce — will be finalized during its steering committee meeting on Thursday. 

Interim Lee County Economic Development Director Crystal Morphis asked members of the Broadway Board of Commissioners, Lee County Board of Commissioners and Sanford City Council for any remaining input or ideas before the outline was finalized during a recent meeting.

“We are under a very tight time frame, for several reasons,” she said. “The main reason is that I think Lee County is ready to be out of, what we have been calling, this transition period that it has been in for over a year now. It is time to get on with the business of economic development.”

The program of work for the group will include the recent county strategic plan, the Second Century project, Downtown Sanford Inc.’s strategic plan and surveys from human resource officers and managers, among other items, Morphis said.

Merging the chamber and the EDC should reduce redundancies but not at the sake of losing services they offered to their respective groups, said Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack.

One example of combining resources, Morphis said, is making a main web portal instead of each entity having its own website.

“We could put together a better website for cheaper,” she said.

The new group should have measurable metrics — possibly mean household income, high school graduation rates, unemployment rates, crime rates or commute times — and maintain a direct line of communication with the governmental bodies, include tourism in its focus and show clear economic leadership, according to the advice solicited by the governmental leaders.   

During the steering committee’s meeting on Thursday, the group will consider a presentation about how much private investment can be collected from local businesses. This will kick off the financial campaign for the group, Morphis said, that could continue into January. After the private funds are raised, the program of work will be finalized based on the group’s available resources.