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CRC to appoint committee

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) discussed developing a committee to oversee the process of developing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) at its Dec. 20 monthly meeting. 

Melody Foster

The CRC was awarded a $60,000 CEDS support grant earlier this year, which requires the CRC to match funds given.

According to a letter in 2016 from former executive director Mary Hickman, about $3.8 million has been allocated on projects in central and Southside Virginia since 1980 using CEDS. The latest project was in 1998, according to Hickman’s letter. Examples of grant money being allocated to projects, she said, include public works and economic development projects.

“This supports construction, expansion or upgrade of public infrastructure facilities, which we all know are the building blocks of any economy,” she said during a previous meeting. “Through the CEDS process, this will be a mechanism to coordinate with efforts … concerned with economic development that’s in the CRC footprint…”

CRC Executive Director Melody Foster cited in a Dec. 13 memorandum that “the CEDS Committee must represent the main economic interests of the region and must include private sector representatives — any senior management official or executive holding a key decision-making position, or that person’s designee — as a majority of its membership.”

Morgan Dunnavant

The committee would require a total of 35 representatives overall, to include one elected official representative each from the counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Prince Edward. It would also include 15 private sector representatives, a representative from Southside Virginia Community College, Hampden-Sydney College, Amelia County Chamber of Commerce, Buckingham County Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce, Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and a representative from NAACP. The memorandum cited that those sought to be a part of the committee are comprised of measures that are outlined in the CRC CEDS Application.

“I’m still trying to get that number down; it just seems like a huge committee for five counties,” Foster said at the Dec. 20 CRC committee.

She said the committee will be in charge of developing the CEDS and will report to the council.

“We have trouble in Buckingham finding enough willing, competent people to sit on advisory boards we’ve already got,” said CRC Vice Chairman and Buckingham County District 4 Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant. “… What happens to us if for some instance we can’t find a particular participant suitable to us and the county to put on it? What if we can’t find a willing party?”

C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr.

CRC Treasurer and Prince Edward County Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. said it would fall on the other counties to fill those vacancies.

“The good thing about this is it’s fairly short lived, it’s not going on for years and years,” Timmons said. “Once this process is done and we submit this application, this committee pretty much goes away.”

Foster said once the CRC gets a CEDS, they’ll still have to have a committee. However, they can adjust the appointed committee once the CEDS is received.