I would like an opportunity to respond to last week's article on the front page of all Tama County newspapers titled "Supervisors hear pros and cons of economic development budget." I appreciate the news media for taking the time to be at the budget meeting and report on the presentation, although, I am curious as to why out of 20 department budget meetings this is the only detailed report.
I would like to clarify some of the facts that were presented and expand on them in hope that you, the taxpayer, further understand the role and services that have been provided by Tama County Economic Development.
First of all, TCED is made up of and run by appointed representatives of all 12 cities in Tama County, the Meskwaki Nation and the three board members of the Tama County Board of Supervisors. The role of Economic Development Director is to facilitate corporate access to resources to expand their presence in the county and bring buyers and sellers together, not to directly sell businesses to new buyers.
As reported, the TCED operational budget for 2011 is $163,868. Not reported is the fact that the financing request to the Supervisors is the same as it has been for the last three years, namely a total of $105,000. The rest of the money comes from the 70 plus local partners, as well as business services provided by the TCED. Also in the budget is another $200,000 plus that is flow-through money that does not come from the Tama County tax payers. This includes tourism, Tama County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Barn Quilts, Tama County Entrepreneurship, Tama County Great Places and the Tama County Community Foundation. The largest share of this $200,000 is the share given to the Weiting Theatre in Toledo, a grant coming from Vision Iowa as a result of participation in the Tama County Great Places scheme, which was initiated by TCED.
It has been said by some that TCED Director Linde Roelofse should spend more time seeing local businesses, of which there are more than 2,000 in the county. The TCED Board feel it is more important for the director to concentrate on producing new business and addressing the needs of those that have asked for help, than to go around the county making cold calls. We the Board felt that part of EconDev could be handled by the local City Boards' representatives. All county businesses are contacted through email and mailings.
With regard to this, here is a list of ED communication activities during the past year:
66 Scientific industry surveys with major influences of our economy
41 regional group meetings
195 local individual contacts
Keith Sash, Tama County Economic Development board member and Mayor of Gladbrook