When the Bryan County Development Authority meeting opened with new concerns or issues on Dec. 13, the board addressed a Bryan County Commission concern regarding the selling of property in the Industrial Park versus investing in more jobs for the community.
Board member Ted Akins said a major goal of the DA is to make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity in the park and that the board is in the job creation business – not the real estate business.
County Administrator Phil Jones spoke on behalf of the commission’s concern.
"What Ed (Bacon) said was that he was concerned. He felt like the board was feeling pressured to sell property and he requested our board write a letter to this board, stating that there is no pressure for you to sell property to anybody and everybody. That what you need to do is what you’re doing now, looking at applicants who are interested in buying new property and creating jobs," Jones said. "We got off on this conversation about a cross docking facility as an example, which would come in, split loads and move out, with two or three employees. But the board wanted to be clear that it would be a general letter that would state there is no pressure to sell real estate."
DA Chairman Sean Register said he wants every potential customer, small or big, to be treated the same and have the opportunity to see all available properties in the park.
"It is up to this board to decide whether they fit our criteria for job growth, and they are conducive to the covenants that we set forth," Register said. "You look at who we’ve got out there, we’ve got Oracal, we’ve got Oneida, we’ve got Kawasaki. And what’s even bigger and more important than that – we’ve got Bryan County working at all of those places."
Register said he’s felt support from all the commissioners and the board will continue doing the same good job they committed to doing in the beginning.
But board member Steve Croy raised another aspect of the DA’s responsibilities.
"We do need to be open minded in the fact that it’s not just about job creation but also economic development," he said. "Whether you want to admit it or not, we’re in a good position right now but that position is weakening."
Croy said that while head count is important, there is an equal responsibility to create a tax base for the county.
"I think we need to look at the high employee companies, and I think we’ll fill that need. But there’s going to be times where, in my opinion, it makes sense to look at the overall package. Cross docking is the kind of business that’s increasing and if we don’t take it, another county or private sector will," he said. "We’re not in the land selling business but we’ve got a lot of land out there and if we let it go, sitting there when we could have someone in there, I don’t know how that helps Bryan County."
Register thanked all the board members for their conviction and for doing a good job, saying they are on the right track.
Before the meeting closed, County Commissioner Rick Gardner gave the DA a pat on the back.
Gardner, who attended the meeting, said when he looked back on the past year he thought the development authority had done a great job. and commended them for their work.