Despite the county commission’s budget struggles, there is now talk of hiring an economic development director.
The idea of creating a new county position is a change of course for the county commission.
The county has not even been able to afford raises for its current employees let alone create a new position like an economic development director.
But First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said Tuesday that an economic development director may be hired to help bring jobs to the area.
Sales tax revenue in the county is showing signs of improvement, which means the county may be able to fund an economic development director, Brinker said.
“Economically, there is an uptick,” Brinker said. “Jobs are becoming available. Industries are freeing up a little money to look for expansion enhancements.”
There should be a “point person” at the county level to meet with business prospects, Brinker said.
It is unclear when the county may be able to hire an economic development director.
“I’ve got to really look at where we can implement the funding,” Brinker said.
Hiring a part-time director, such as a retired economic development director, is one idea, Brinker said.
“It’s very early, but it’s definitely an objective of mine — always has been from the campaign until now,” Brinker said.
He noted that new enhanced enterprise zones, which allow certain businesses to get tax breaks, are attracting interest in the county.
Leaving some county positions vacant could provide money for an economic development director, Brinker said.
There have been other signs that the budget is improving. Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer recently said that he is confident employee raises can be given next year.
Griesheimer pointed to a bill in the Legislature that will once again allow the county to collect sales tax on out-of-state vehicle sales.
An economic development director for the county could work with the Regional Chamber and Growth Association, the West County Chamber of Commerce and the local cities, Brinker said.
“Let’s get some jobs in this county that we’re in dire need of,” Brinker said.