Committee appointees will help develop a marketing strategy.
The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce has raised half its $2.5 million fundraising goal for its Visions 3D campaign, chamber leaders announced at their annual meeting today.
The four-year economic development strategy aims to create 9,000 new jobs, with many paying at or above the average wage in the Durham County.
The meeting marked the kickoff of the Visions 3D campaign, which chamber leaders say could generate $569 million annually in local consumer spending.
The plan also calls for the chamber to assist in the location of 40 new companies; the expansion, training and suport of 150 companies; and an increase in capital investment in Durham of $1 billion.
The $1.25 million raised so far came from a targeted campaign of large local companies intended to lay the foundation for the public phase of the fund-raising effort.
So who were the large companies?
AICPA, BB&T, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Duke University and Duke University Health System, Duke Energy, Fairway Outdoor (Advertising), Independence Park Apartments, Morgan Motors, the Research Triangle Park & Foundation, and SunTrust Bank "have stepped up the plate and showed their vote of confidence in Vision 3D and its tremendous impact on our community," honorary campaign chairman Bob Ingram said in a release.
Wendell is drawing ever closer to hiring a professional economic developer.
In what has been a glacially slow process, commissioners gave Town Manager David Bone permission to seek a request for qualifications. That's government lingo for taking bids on the job. Instead of hiring an economic development director, Wendell is going to contract with a company to provide economic development services.
Exactly what those services will be remains to be seen. There is some disagreement even among commissioners about the proper role of an economic developer. Commissioner Ronald Thompson, long ago, staked out the high ground in opposition to hiring an economic development director of any kind, largely due to the souring economy.
Commissioner Sid Baynes wants an economic developer to think more in terms of residential development than most people would expect from a person in that company.
On Dec. 16 Bone held an informational meeting for companies who may be interested in doing the work for the town. According to Bone, representatives from five companies attended the meeting and five other companies have expressed interest but could not attend last week's meeting.
Whoever is interested in the work has until Jan. 8, 2009, to submit their proposal. Bone will review them and the finalists will have an opportunity to make presentations to town commissioners Jan. 24, 2009.
Wendell town commissioners agreed to delay, possibly until March, plans to hire an economic development director.
Commissioners wanted the position created in this year's budget and put the money in the spending plan to pay for a position for six months. The idea was to fill the position by January and, perhaps, fund the job for a full year beginning in July, 2009, which is the start of a new fiscal year.
But on Monday night, Commissioner Ronald Thompson convinced his fellow board members to hold off, citing concerns about whether the town could effectively mount any kind of economic development effort.
Town Manager David Bone reinforced Thompson's comments by pointing out that it would be difficult to hire anyone to work for six months, so as he stood before commissioners Monday night, Bone asked the board to consider extending the commitment into the first six months of the fiscal year (July-December, 2009).
Of course, that would cost more money, which raised questions on the part of Commissioner Sid Baynes, about town money held by the Wendell Chamber of Commerce for economic development efforts.
Town officials are still waiting for the chamber to return those funds, but Bone said that money was not extra money the town could put toward economic development efforts, a contention Baynes argued was incorrect.
So, when all the smoke cleared, commissioners asked Bone to report back in October about the status of funds available to promote economic development and they agreed not to hold Bone accountable for filling the position by January. At the meeting in October, commissioners will also decide whether to approve a request for bids, which is essentially a job description for an economic developer.