Franklin County officials are hoping to increase involvement in the county’s community and economic development council.
The council met Thursday afternoon to discuss economic development opportunities, ways to improve the county’s work force, tourism and more, but attendance was light — only representatives from the St. Clair and New Haven Chambers, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, East Central College, Franklin County and the city of Washington were in attendance.
Terry Wilson, Franklin County commissioner, said the council needs increased involvement from a number of sources.
“Everything we do today, it is about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Wilson said. “While it is good to have development in each town, we just want to keep it in the county.”
Economic development has taken a backseat in some area communities recently, he said, as some cities have lost or cut funding for economic developers.
City staffs are doing what they can, when they can, Wilson said.
One solution that has been discussed previously — having a countywide economic development director.
Wilson said a not-for-profit could be established, with a governing board, to hire and oversee such a position.
That position would not be part of county government, he said, but the county could provide office space to help keep costs down.
Costs could be split among the municipalities in the county, Wilson said.
“If we’re going to do something with economic development and everyone can afford it, now is the time to do it,” he said. “It is an opportunity. As we see more daylight, we may really try to attack the issue.”
Currently the only Franklin County cities with full-time economic development directors are Washington and Union.