Polk sets work session with ETDC to discuss new ED role

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 17, 2017

COLUMBUS – The Polk County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a work session with its Economic and Tourism Development Commission (ETDC) for May 16 at 1 p.m.

The purpose of the work session will be to further discuss what commissioners and the ETDC discussed during a Feb. 4 work session concerning the county’s economic development director and the direction the county wants to explore.

Commissioners did not extend economic development director Robert Williamson’s contract at the end of last year. County manager Marche Pittman said at the time that the contract was on hold until the ETDC and new board of commissioners decided what direction the county wanted to go in terms of economic development.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In the meantime, former Isothermal Planning and Development Director Jim Edwards has taken over duties of economic development, including facilitating the work session on Feb. 4.

ETDC members have said they would like for the county to change the economic development director to a full-time county employee. The last two economic development directors for the county have worked on a contract basis.

Williamson, with Strategic Work Systems Inc., was first hired by the county as a consultant to help the county draft an economic development plan and strategy, which was adopted by commissioners in August 2014.

The county then hired Williamson as the county’s interim economic development director for three months before naming him as permanent director in November 2014.

The last time commissioners extended Williamson’s contract was last July when they extended the contract by six months from June 30-Dec. 30, 2016.

The latest contract that ended at the end of 2016 was not extended.

Williamson was contracted by the county to make approximately $65,000 per year, or $5,416 per month. Including his economic development director duties, he reported to the ETDC as well as commissioners by giving reports on economic development activities.

The May 16 meeting will include the work session to discuss the direction of the economic development director position. Commissioners will begin a budget work session at 3 p.m. following the economic development work session at 1 p.m.

Both work sessions will be held in the R. Jay Foster Hall of Justice, located on the second floor of the Womack building in Columbus.