Pelham weighing options with economic development board

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

While Pelham City Council member Ron Scott said he is unsure what the city’s economic development board will be called in the future, he didn’t hesitate to outline the challenge the city is facing.

“The biggest challenge for us is retail recruitment and retention,” Scott said during a Jan. 21 council work session.

City Council members recently collected applications from those interested in serving on several city boards, including the currently dormant Industrial Development Board.

City Council President Rick Hayes previously said the council collected about 25 applications from those interested in filling about 12 vacancies on the city’s boards, a number Hayes said he was “pretty happy with.” The IDB contains seven seats – only one of which is currently filled – and the board has not met for years.

Hayes

Hayes

After reviewing the city’s economic goals, council members began weighing their options with the IDB’s future. Scott and Hayes said the council is considering changing the board’s name to allow for a greater focus on commercial development in the city.

Alternatives to the IDB include an industrial development authority and a commercial development authority, both of which would be smaller than the current IDB.

While an IDA and a CDA could exist simultaneously, Councilwoman Karyl Rice said she does not want to seat two boards with overlapping authority.

“We don’t need to have two entities to do the same thing,” Rice said. “It seems the CDA is the more logical road to take.”

Because the city likely will place a greater emphasis on commercial growth with its future economic development board, Hayes encouraged those interested in working to attract commercial development to the city to submit their résumés to Pelham Executive Administrative Assistant Paula Holly at Pelham City Hall.

Hayes said the City Council will “make a decision on which way we want to head” with the economic development board during its Feb. 3 meeting.