Change is not always the best thing for a successful business structure.
It's no secret that Loudoun's Board of Supervisors have been focused on positive economic growth throughout the county with recent projects like Metro and the FBI discussion.
Loudoun County's Economic Development Committee recently unanimously voted to recommend maintaining its current structure after a recommendation from the Government Reform Commission to change the department structure to an independent Economic Development Authority.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), chair of the Economic Development Committee, explained the commission's recommendation.
“The Government Reform Commission recommended changing the structure of the department to an Economic Development Authority in a way that would remove the primary commercial business development function away from the DED and put it in an independent entity similar to what Fairfax County does,” Letourneau said. “It came to the Board of Supervisors and the Board sent it to my committee and I moved to thoroughly investigate it, come up with a document and discuss options for what we could do should we want to do that.”
After investigating the matter, Letourneau felt it would be in the county's best interests to not change the structure of the department.
However, the committee did decide to recommend to the Board to change the name of the already existing Industrial Development Authority to an Economic Development Authority.
“We recommended to change the name of the IDA to an EDA without giving them the day-to-day function, but to start the process of better linking what is happening at that IDA/EDA with what we are actually doing on a daily and weekly basis for economic development in the county,” Letourneau said. “The advantage of that is they will generate some revenue through their bonds that they issue that is non-taxpayer revenue. That gives you a little more freedom to put into economic development efforts in perhaps some areas you wouldn't necessarily want to put tax dollars into.”
Letourneau feels as the negatives outweigh the positives of the change.
“I think the GRC recommended this as a way to remove the economic development activities from the political back and forth that happened in the county over time,” Letourneau said. “I think the counter to that is if you move it to a structure like the one they were suggesting, it would be governed by a board appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the Board would still control the budget.
“The real disadvantage under the proposed structure is you could have an EDA charged with doing day-to-day activity for the county that is not in sync with the Board of Supervisors because of staggered appointments and terms would overlap Boards,” Letourneau said.
Letourneau felt under the changed structure, if a future Board of Supervisors wanted to go in a different direction and didn't want to support economic development they could not fund it and appoint people with a different vision.
Letourneau feels his fellow Supervisors will agree with his assessment and vote accordingly.