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EDA approves smaller expense budget

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
publisher

The Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority board approved a somewhat slimmed down budget Thursday as it approaches a new fundraising effort this year.
The CGEDA — an economic development marketing group made up of representatives from Escambia, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke and Choctaw counties — is working with a consulting group to ramp up a fundraising effort, only the second in the group’s existence.
Board members agreed Thursday that they need to better communicate the authority’s goals and activities while remaining focused on marketing the region.
National Community Development Services has been working with the EDA for several weeks and conducted a survey of the region’s business leaders to determine their opinions on the future of the organization.
Board members said they hoped investors would understand that the EDA’s role is in marketing the area — pooling the resources of the counties to be able to attract site selectors investigating locations for new industries. But the counties and communities themselves also have to have locations to sell, board members said.
DiFiore said NCDS’ mission is not focused solely on raising money.
DiFiore said the fundraising campaign will aim to communicate that the EDA will seek to fulfill those regional needs.
EDA will pay the consulting group up to $8,000 per month for its work — which includes staff, travel and equipment — but EDA Co-Chairman Yank Lovelace said he is working closely with the company to try to get those costs much lower.
In the meantime, the board approved a budget for the year whose expenditures are much less than the previous year, with an estimated $394,000 in expenses in 2010 compared to $485,000 in 2009. Payment to the NCDS will be made through the authority’s line of credit.