FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2014
Rockingham County Manager
Mable Scott, public information officer
Rockingham County Government
Commissioners Support Resolution to Reorganize Rockingham County’s Economic Development Service Delivery Structure
Rockingham County, NC—During a special called meeting tonight, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution of support to reorganize the County’s economic development service delivery structure. The resolution was agreed upon following a presentation on the Economic Development Assessment and Recommendations for Rockingham County by Don Kirkman, founding principal of Kirkman Economic Development Consulting (KEDC) in Greensboro.
Kirkman and the UNC School of Government (SOG) were hired for the project by a consortium of Rockingham County entities, which includes the Rockingham County Government, the Reidsville Area Foundation and the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and Tourism Development.
The specific tasks of this project were to:
1. Review Rockingham County’s existing economic development organizations and structures.
2. Assess public and private sector leadership perceptions and opinions concerning economic development in Rockingham County.
3. Recommend changes to the economic development model that would improve economic development service delivery in the County.
The evaluation included an extensive analysis of the three primary county-supported organizations providing economic development and tourism services: the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic and Tourism Development (the “Partnership”), the Rockingham County Business & Technology Center (the “BTC”), and the Rockingham County Tourism Development Authority (the “TDA”).
KEDC conducted over 40 interviews with community leaders and others involved with economic development in Rockingham County. Based on the feedback provided through interviews, as well as their independent review, KEDC and the SOG offer the following 10 recommendations. The first five directly concern the economic development delivery model in Rockingham County, and the remaining five address complementary issues that can enhance the effectiveness of the economic development services provided in the County.
1. Continue to deliver County economic development services through the Partnership, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation.
2. Combine the programs of the BTC under the Partnership.
3. Remove tourism responsibilities from the Partnership and place them directly under TDA management, with staffing provided by the County under contract.
4. Modify the Partnership’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to reduce board size, eliminate memberships, and enhance transparency and accountability.
5. Co-locate the Partnership (including the BTC functions), the TDA and the Rockingham Community College Small Business Center.
6. Develop an Operational Plan to prioritize resource allocations for economic development services.
7. Conduct regular economic development training programs for elected officials and other community leaders.
8. Hire an experienced economic development professional as Partnership President. (following the retirement of Graham Pervier in June 2014)
9. Conduct a private sector fundraising campaign to augment Partnership funding.
10. Review all real estate owned and optioned by the Partnership.
A copy of the full report is available at: www.co.rockingham.nc.us/newsView.aspx?nid=7795.
“This report includes 10 recommendations that we believe will improve economic development outcomes for Rockingham County,” said Don Kirkman. “The most significant among the recommendations are combining the BTC and the Partnership under the Partnership umbrella, and the transfer of tourism marketing responsibilities from the Partnership to the TDA.”
Kirkman added, “Rockingham County citizens and elected leaders should be encouraged. The County has many assets and strengths, and most importantly, its leaders and the citizens they represent share a passion for improving this community and the lives of those who reside here.”
“The NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development confirmed that domestic visitors spent $62.3 million in Rockingham County last year, an increase of 3.74 percent. Business NC rated Rockingham County seventh in the state with construction in the last few months. NEWS 2 reported Rockingham County attracted six expansion projects over a million dollars including Ruger with $26 million and 473 jobs. Add to that Amcor, Albaad, Sans Fibers, and the list goes on and on,” said Lance Metzler, Rockingham County Manager.
“We’ve seen success in a tight economy but we must do more. This objective study, assessment, and subsequent recommendations are vital to attract, retain and grow economic development and tourism. Reorganizing our economic development service delivery structure will propel our economic engine so doing business in Rockingham County is more efficient, more effective, and more focused,” added Metzler.
The current Rockingham County Partnership Board of Directors will vote on the Resolution of Support at its regularly scheduled Board meeting on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.