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EDA ‘moves forward’|Group votes to raise funds

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
publisher

Members of the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority board recommitted to regional cooperation Wednesday, and hired a consulting firm to help lead the next round of fundraising for the five-county organization.
Coastal Gateway is an economic development marketing authority for Escambia, Conecuh, Monroe, Clarke and Choctaw counties.
Other board members agreed that the regional approach was necessary for the area to succeed at economic development.
The group formed nearly five years ago as the Tri-County Industrial Development Board, with Conecuh, Escambia and Monroe counties. Clarke and Choctaw counties joined last year.
Board members also said they plan to look at some structural changes for the organization and will expand their communication efforts with investors. Funding for the CGREDA comes from county and municipal governments as well as corporations and businesses.
Board members agreed that they wanted to launch a new fundraising effort, but three board members voted to delay the decision for another month. The majority agreed to hire National Community Development Services, which will begin a months-long fundraising effort to seek pledges for operating money for the next several years.
But while the group is anxious to move forward, board members acknowledged that they would need to make some changes.
Among the options discussed Wednesday were the possibility of changing to a 501(c)3 organization and ensuring that board leadership changes on a regular basis. The staff and board will also develop several new ways to communicate with investors.
Lovelace asked several of the board members to come up with ideas for structural changes for the board by the next meeting, set for January.