WILMINGTON — Two of the three Clinton County commissioners Wednesday formally gave the county economic development director a two-page memo regarding performance of the job and communication with the board.
The memo spells out seven tasks and responsibilities for the economic development position “which must be met immediately and continued on an ongoing basis.”
Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed and Commissioner Brenda K. Woods voted to accept the contents of the memo in which the subject line states “Performance Expectations”. Commissioner Patrick Haley voted in opposition.
The memo states the board of commissioners will fund 12 weeks of salary and benefits for the economic development position once the economic development funds contributed by RegionalCare Hospital Partners when it purchased Clinton Memorial Hospital runs out in six weeks.
In response to a question from Clinton County Business and Economic Development Director Bret Dixon about the time frame that is funded, Steed said the total 18 weeks will “give us [commissioners] an opportunity to reassess where we are with regard to economic development and how things are going in our local community with our local businesses as well as job creation.”
Dixon did not say much during the meeting with commissioners where he first read the memo. He asked whether the performance expectations “match up” with his job description, adding “I’m OK with it. … This is what goes with it.”
Following the meeting, Steed said it’s his belief the local business community, “whether it’s manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transportation, logistics, whatever, is under-served by our [county] economic development.”
He said he hoped the memo will bring about some change and allow those local existing companies and the economic development director “to forge new relationships together.”
Steed added one of his job priorities is to ensure that every available resource is brought to bear in regard to local companies being “healthy and strong and can grow in Clinton County.”
Woods followed up Steed’s statements, saying she thinks there are a number of local jobs “that continue to be unfilled but no one is checking to see why they’re unfilled, [and] what can we do as a county to help them fill those jobs.”
She added, “I just feel like so much emphasis is put on bringing new jobs — and that’s very important, don’t get me wrong — but I also think that retaining the businesses we have in the county is just as important.”
One reason Woods wants to see a few changes is, she said, because she feels like she’s left in the dark a lot of times, and feels she is not getting the information she needs as a commissioner in order to address some of the economic situations.
After the meeting, Haley stated that Dixon has kept him informed of economic development matters during his seven years as commissioner.
He is concerned some of the memo’s added requirements “could have far reaching consequences for potential businesses wanting to locate in Clinton County. Most companies are protective of intellectual property and confidential information, which might conflict with ‘Sunshine Laws’ that govern the county commissioners.”
Woods said Dixon has some wonderful connections that have brought some great things to the county. She said Dixon’s relationship with Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger is “very, very important” to the county.
“But there are just different things that I feel we need to be doing to continue to move in a different but a good direction,” continued Woods.
Steed then said, “And unfortunately, every time that we’ve suggested something, it’s been met with resistance in some way. So that’s why we felt it necessary to have a formal action.”
Among the added performance expectations are: No fewer than 10 in-person visits each month to companies currently in the county; two meetings per month with the commissioners rather than one meeting; and to provide a monthly overview of various companies’ needs as gathered from those companies “large, small, currently located in the county, those considering locating in the county or those who decided to locate elsewhere.”
In an appointment Wednesday with commissioners, Clinton County Solid Waste Management District Coordinator Jeffrey D. Walls reported the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded the district a 2017 Litter Management Grant in the amount of $16,047.
The grant funds will aid the district in hosting a 2018 tire amnesty event; enable the district to partner with the Clinton County Soil & Water Conservation District to conduct an agricultural tire collection event this autumn; and allow the district to purchase necessary supplies and promotional items for the district’s Litter Cleanup Campaign.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.