New economic development region currently in the works

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2019

Polk approves resolution to join four-county district

COLUMBUS — Polk County is joining a four-county region that could include funding for economic development.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met this week and approved a resolution to designate the four-county Isothermal Region as an “Economic Development District.”

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Commissioners heard from Director of Economic Community Workforce Development Isothermal Planning and Development Commission Steve Lockett.

Lockett said the resolution will allow the four counties, including Polk, to apply for federal economic development funding.

“We are the last four counties that are not yet designated,” Lockett said. “It is no cost  to the county.”

Lockett explained that the designation opens up an extra pot of money that the counties can tap into that as of right now, they cannot.

IPDC is the regional commission for the Isothermal region, which includes Polk, Rutherford, McDowell and Cleveland counties.

Lockett said the other three counties have already approved resolutions and the district would also need a letter of support from the governor’s office.

“The Isothermal Planning and Development Commission Board of Directors has directed that IPDC should undertake activities that further economic development in the Isothermal Region and to promote economic development and job creation by carrying out community, economic and workforce development initiatives, as outlined in the adopted Isothermal Regional Economic Development Strategy, developed under the USDA Phase V Region Stronger Economies Together program, and implemented as the Isothermal Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy,” states the county’s resolution.

The resolution also states that the designation will further the community, economic and workforce development interests of the four-county region and greatly enhance implementation of the regional CEDS by coordinating efforts to create jobs, build an entrepreneurial economy and attract reinvestment in communities throughout the region.

The district received unanimous support from the county’s economic tourism development commission.

Lockett said the goal is to put in an application for designation by the end of January.