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Brunswick’s Again Changes On Economic Development

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 28, 2017
A new model for Brunswick County’s economic development functions is taking shape.

With approval July 10 by the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, those functions, now handled from within the county, will be transferred over to a new private-public structure.

The Brunswick County Economic Development Foundation, a nonprofit that has been an outside partner in efforts for several years, will serve as the lead to oversee the transition.

Brunswick County’s economic development efforts switched from private to public two years ago, but county officials now decided to go back to moving it out of the county’s department.

In the summer of 2015, Brunswick County commissioners voted to create a county Economic Development Department rather than continuing to provide funding and support two separate legal entities to do the job. The change came after questions arose about how the two prior organizations had used funds between 2009 and 2014.

The new structure will be made up of staff from either the county or the nonprofit, a new executive director and a 16-member member board, including the county commissioners’ chair and vice chair, the county manager, five appointees (one from each of the commissioner’s districts) and eight representatives from the professional, industrial and service sectors, according to county documents.

There is no timeline on the transfer or what the new economic development organization will be named, said Mike Hargett, currently the county’s economic development and planning director. That call is set to be determined by the foundation.

Hargett said the current structure has “worked well,” but the new setup will have its advantages.

“It’s a little more nimble, more flexible than being under the public banner,” he said.

One of the first tasks at hand is to form the board, develop a strategic plan and find an executive director, Hargett said. The board of commissioners could make appointments next month.

But the director search will take longer and could take place “statewide and beyond,” he said.

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