The newly formed Oconee County Economic Development Task Force is scheduled to hold the first of three meetings on Tuesday to help develop a plan for economic development in the county.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 55 Nancy Drive in Watkinsville.
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners in March approved a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Chamber of Commerce that contracted with the Chamber for economic development services previously provided by county staff.
The Board appointed the 10-person Economic Development Task Force at its Aug. 6 meeting to review the Chamber’s Action Plan and provide feedback both to the Chamber and to the Board of Commissioners.
The meetings of the Task Force are open to the public.
Task Force Members
The Board appointed two of its own members to the Economic Development Task Force: Commissioners Mark Saxon and Mark Thomas.
Tim Burgess, a member of the Board of Education, also will serve on the Task Force.
Watkinsville is represented by City Council Member Brian Brodrick, and Bogart is represented by City Council Member Janet Jones.
The Board appointed Rick Waller, chair of the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority, to the Task Force.
Two Chamber members, Tammy Gilland and Brad Tucker, also will serve on the Task Force.
Gilland is executive director of Philantropy at Piedmont Athens Regional.
Brad Tucker, former owner of Georgia Square Collision, is now a business consultant. He also serves on the Oconee County Planning Commission.
Citizens “At Large”
The Board appointed two citizens “at large” to the Task Force: Lisa Douglas and Sharon Maxey.
Douglas, 4931 Price Mill Road outside Bishop, is one of the organizers of Positively Oconee, a group that has worked to preserve the southern part of the county.
Maxey, 1670 Hebron Church Road, in the northwest of the county, is owner of Barrett Family Enterprises, according to her LinkedIn entry.
Daniell told me in an email exchange ending on Tuesday that the Board of Commissioners did not advertise for the two citizen positions, as it usually does for its citizen committee appointments.
Rather, in its executive session following the July 30 agenda setting meeting, Board members “each had opportunity to suggest names for the two positions,” Daniell wrote. “We then agreed on Lisa and Sharon.”
The Board then approved the final Task Force membership, including Douglas and Maxey, at the Aug. 6 meeting.
Goal Of Task Force
The county is paying the Chamber $100,000 per year for economic development services, including marketing, attracting new businesses, supporting existing businesses, and promotion of tourism.
“This year we entered into a contract with the Chamber of Commerce for economic development,” Daniell told the Board at the Aug. 6 meeting. “And they’ll be developing an economic development action plan.”
“We’re setting up a Task Force to review that and make comments back to them and also to the Board of Commissioners,” Daniell said.
The initial Memorandum of Understanding between the Board of Commissioners and the Chamber of Commerce included the creation of an Economic Development Council to oversee the Chamber’s work for the county.
Daniell had said that the Council would not be covered by the state’s open meeting and open records laws.
The Board ultimately eliminated mention of the Council from the Memorandum of Understanding and created the Economic Development Task Force instead.
Daniell said at the Aug. 6 meeting that all activities of the Economic Development Taskforce would be open to the public and that minutes of the deliberations will be posted to the county web site.
Schedule Of Meetings
The meeting on Tuesday is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 11 a.m., according to the county web site.
The next meeting will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 23.
The final scheduled meeting of the Task Force is from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 7.
All three meetings are scheduled to be held at the Chamber of Commerce.