In response to the Board of Supervisor's May 15 vote to have the Economic Development Committee review the organizational structure of the Economic Development Commission, the Loudoun County EDC discussed at length the options on the table at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting June 7.
Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) brought the initial review of county commissions, committees and boards to the supervisors May 15 and she attended the EDC meeting on behalf of the supervisors.
“As you all know I brought the item to the board with the recommendation and I don't want to take away from this body whatsoever. You all have done tremendous work,” Clarke said. “I want to emphasize that the focus wasn't just on resources or money, it was also on achieving efficiency and more effective functioning between the county and the different committees.”
The commission's Executive Committee had met May 17 to discuss alternatives for the commission moving forward.
The Executive Committee recommended the commission become an advisory body to the county administrator.
According to the plan, the EDC would still have access to the highest level of county administration and county staff would be available for input and advice.
Under this format, the county administrator would provide direction to ensure responsiveness to current issues.
This format would require the commission to become a government support body rather than a policy advisory body. Issues focus would become more operationally based and less strategic as they are now.
Other options brought up during the meeting included remaining in the commission's current structure, restructuring to reduce staff support or other cost saving issues. The last option was to become a community based advisory group.
“After much discussion, we recommend restructuring the EDC to an advisory body under the county administrator with the form of that body to be determined,” Shaun Kelley, chairman of the EDC said. “I think that would be a smaller group, which we would achieve through attrition. We wouldn't recruit new members as vacancies occur until we get down to a size we thought was appropriate.
“Another option is to restructure the EDC under the BOS to improve effectiveness, which is viable, but we would have to be conscious of staff time and figure out a way to reduce expenses,” Kelley said. “Restructuring the EDC as community based is not a viable option.”
In the Executive Committee's findings, it was apparent they understood the need for the review with the creation of the Board's Economic Development Committee and the emphasis on the Economic Development Authority.
As advisers to the Board of Supervisors, the EDC has been instrumental in providing valuable business advice on economic issues. Its mission is to promote the long-term economic growth and development of Loudoun County.
In order to keep this service in an effective and cost efficient manner, the Executive Committee came up with four options to remain responsive, nimble, informative and provide expertise in their mission.
Commissioner Greg Miller, co-founder and managing director for PM Hospitality Strategies voiced his opinion on how important the EDC is in its current structure.
“One of the main purposes of the DED is to be a knowledge base and the EDC's role is to help optimize that knowledge base. The Silver Line is an issue I think we helped vet very successfully for this county,” Miller said. “With all due respect to Supervisor Clarke, we are a group here that come together very differently than the chamber does and the kinds of things we go through in our committees are extremely valuable and that should not be overlooked. So as much as possible I would like to propose we retain our current structure realizing that things need to improve at all times and be tweaked as necessary.”
With the commission's inability to meet its quorum, the EDC took a straw vote and the remaining commissioners sided with Miller saying they would prefer to keep the EDC in its current structure with changes to help alleviate staff time and cost efficiency.
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