Commissioners and EDC Have Joint Meeting to Discuss Business Recruitment and Retention Goals

Published Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

By Tim Gardner

     A joint meeting of the Avery Commissioners and the county’s Economic Development Committee was held July 30 to discuss goals and objectives in planning strategies to attract new businesses– particularly small ones– in the county and also to encourage expansion and retention of existing businesses here.

     All Commissioners–Martha Hicks (Chairperson); Blake Vance (Vice-Chairman); Wood Hall (Woody) Young, Jr.; Tim Phillips; and Faye Lacey were present at the meeting in the County Administration Building in Newland. Other top county officials attending included: County Manager Phillip Barrier; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board Cindy Turbyfill; and Finance Director Nancy Johnson.

   The Avery County Economic Development Committee is comprised of nine members, the County Manager and Commissioner Phillips.  The EDC includes a diverse group of business specialists consisting of retired corporate executives, current Chief Executive Officers, management professionals and entrepreneurs. Their career backgrounds range across the board from manufacturing, education, health care, utilities, retail and wholesale. Some of the EDC’s members are Avery County natives with their family heritages ranging from multiple generations, while others are expats from more northern states. 

     All EDC members also were present at the meeting, including: Chairman Ken Walter; Larry Hazen; Melynda Peeble; Susan Siirila; David Pollard; Carmen Lacey; Trey Oakley; Jesse Pope; and Roy Reynolds.

     The EDC has two primary goals, each sharing equal priority: to insure the success, growth and retention of current businesses in the county and to attract new commerce here.

     Additionally, the Avery County Economic Development Committee is a referral resource for entrepreneurs, a new business start-up, a business entering a growth cycle or an established company wishing to expand or relocate.

     The EDC is available to assist businesses with: writing a business plan; startup capital requirements rules and regulation compliance; employee recruitment; job training reimbursement; educational and advanced training opportunities; and all other aspects of starting or operating a retail, wholesale, tourism, hospitality, agricultural, commercial or light manufacturing business.

     Barrier commented about the meeting’s productivity: “Our meeting was very positive in a general exchange of what we need to do collectively as county officials and the EDC to get smaller and larger businesses to open in Avery as well as to keep the ones we already have. We especially want to market ourselves as a county and become more visible in the process with special attention toward small businesses. I think we can be most successful in achieving these objectives.”

     Walter said he, likewise, was elated with the meeting’s outcome. “It was most constructive and there was a great sense of cooperation between the commissioners and the EDC,” he stated. “As an EDC, we understand that as a small county, the commissioners have a limited budget to meet the goals we all have. But we will all work together within our monetary means in the recruitment and retention process with a special focus of brining new businesses in the county. Those will especially include the small businesses that have fifteen or less employees. I’m excited about our future meetings as we further our work towards expanding the number of businesses in Avery County.”

     Hazen added he also thinks the meeting went well and that that the EDC will continue its existing work and expand it in the necessary manners to meet the wishes of the commissioners.

     The Commissioners took no vote during the meeting. But they and the EDC agreed to meet every three months to iron out more specific details and to maintain progress about how they will continue their business recruitment and retention process. A date and time for the next joint meeting between the entities has not been set, but Barrier said likely will be in mid-to-late October.


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