Supervisors join Regional Economic Development Partnership

By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer

The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors approved in a 4-1 vote to
join the Regional Economic Development Partnership for one year.
The Regional Economic Development Partnership (REPMS) is being
created to establish an economic development district for Choctaw,
Webster, Montgomery and Carroll Counties. For this year, $40,000 is
required to join the partnership.
Montgomery and Carroll Counties previously approved to join the
REPMS. Webster County approved to join in late April.
In the April 15 Choctaw County Board of Supervisor meeting, District
3 Supervisor Chris McIntire, also board president, said the Choctaw
County Economic Development District recently approved to fund the
required $40,000 to join the REPMS for this year. For several months,
the CCEDD was undecided on whether or not to donate the fund to the
county to join the partnership.
After the discussion began in the April 15 supervisor meeting,
McIntire reminded the board that “the bottom line today is this
resolution. We’ve had it for several months.”
Ron Bennett, CCEDD president, said in the meeting, that the district
supports the partnership.
“Our main competition is Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay Counties. They
have already entered into it (an economic development partnership),
if we don’t it puts us further behind,” said Bennett.
McIntire called for a motion to enter into a local cooperation
agreement to establish an economic development district. District 2
Supervisor Larry McClain made the motion with a second by District 4
Supervisor David Carter.
District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers asked the board about provisions
for the economic development district to share in mutual advantage.
He said the counties involved could share in revenues produced from
projects.
McIntire said that is possible if a project is completed and the
participating counties want to share in revenues then reminded the
board that that is not what the interlocal agreement is about. He
said the partnership would have one person working to improve
economic development in all four counties.
Bennett also said that the Choctaw County Economic Development
District would still be involved in any project in Choctaw County.
“By voting on this we are not giving up our economic development,”
said McIntire.
Chambers then asked Bennett if the CCEDD would fund the county’s
portion of the partnership if the fund requirement was increased in
the next year.
“Our budget is $40, 000,” said Bennett.
Chambers then asked of the CCEDD would fund the partnership every
year for Choctaw County.
“I can only speak for what we have budgeted,” said Bennett.
Chambers then turned toward the supervisors asking them if they would
be willing to leave the partnership, in the future, if the county did
not have the required $40,000 annually to join. And if they were
willing to add millage to Choctaw County to stay in the partnership.
McIntire said, “If I see it’s a benefit. Yes.”
McClain said, “It would have to be a sure enough benefit.”
Carter said, “I can’t say three years from now, but there is an
option to opt out every year.” Later he continued, “In a couple of
years, if we don’t benefit, then I’m not going to support it just for
the other counties.”
The board discussed the issue more including how the Choctaw County
Chamber of Commerce was established to benefit local businesses.
McIntire then called for a vote to enter into the interlocal
agreement establishing an economic development district with
Montgomery, Carroll and Webster Counties.
The board approved the agreement in a 4-1 vote. Chambers voted
against it.