Future funding topic of discussion for BCEDC board

Bradley County Economic Development Corp. board members had a lengthy discussion during their last meeting of the year Monday as to their prospects for future funding.

By Tim Kessler

BCEDC and Bradley County Chamber of Commerce each asked for $18,000 in next year’s city budget to fund their respective offices. Warren City Council has rejected the requests as final preparations are being made on the budget. Similar requests for funding in this year’s budget were also denied.

“I don’t understand why the people of Warren can’t work together from group to group,” said board member Sue Wagnon.

“If they’re going to take over economic development, we’d still be available to assist them,” said board Chairman Dr. Bob Smalling. “We need to spend some money on land options.”

He also mentioned the fact that BCEDC had asked to meet with the city Community and Economic Development Committee but no response had been received from that group.

A motion was approved to have Smalling make a presentation at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting, with other board members present for support.

In other action:

  • Accountant Bob Milton said BCEDC had total assets of $944,275. It has shown a $91,385 gain for the year.
  • Banks Mayor Keeton Hudson said the Buck Fever Festival had a big turnout.
  • Southeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority board member John Lipton said an economic prospect was still in view. He said SEARIFA had received state right-of-way funds and annual funding.
  • Board member James Wells said he was still working on a BCEDC website. He will contact Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington and Arkansas Economic Development Commission members to determine what type of information should be included.
  • Lipton will work on the Nominating Committee. Board members agreeing to serve another term include himself, Wells and Carlton Davis. John Gavin was not present but is up for re-election to the board. Board member Steve Henson resigned and the late Matts Mathur and one other board position must be filled.
  • Smalling said the Executive Committee had discussed a lease of BCEDC property that is currently being used by Sorrells sawmill. That company is leasing the land for $500 per month and the lease has now gone to a month-to-month basis. However, another company is interested in buying or leasing that land. While board members indicated they were not in favor of selling the land, negotiations will continue with the two companies.
  • LaSalle Corrections officials are scheduled to meet with County Judge Klay McKinney on Dec. 7 to discuss the regional jail project.
  • The board will not meet in December but is planning to hold its annual meeting on Jan. 31 at Immanuel Baptist Church.

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