Photo by Erica Techo.
A new economic development partnership in Shelby County will aim to advance economic and business health in the county.
Shelby County will soon have a new economic development partnership to help recruit business to the area, as well as help established businesses grow.
The partnership is a result of the recommendations of a group made up of representatives from Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority Board of Directors (SCEIDA) and associates of Shelby County.
The group had weekly meetings for 10 months — dating back to fall 2015 — during which they analyzed economic development in Shelby County and how businesses are recruited.
One of the group members, Chad Scroggins, chief development officer of Shelby County, said many people are attracted to Shelby County because of the quality of life, school systems, parks and other places to enjoy. However, many travel out of the county to work.
“One of the goals of this new entity is to create opportunities in every corner of the county depending on their individual needs,” Scroggins said. “There is a structural imbalance between the number of residents and jobs. That won’t change overnight, but we can start working on it now.”
The group looked at trends around the Southeast and the nation of what counties were doing right and wrong, then developed a recommendation focused on balancing job growth in the commercial, retail and industrial sectors in Shelby County.
The group’s research concluded there has been a gap in the recruitment of retail and commercial business entities, along with legal constraints to merge a nonprofit corporation, the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce, into a governmental entity (SCEIDA) and still be able to offer economic incentives.
The mission of the new entity will be to advance economic and business health through a collaborative partnership among stakeholders, local government and the business community.
Paul Rogers, chairman of the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce, said the group gathered information and spent time talking to people inside almost every city in Shelby County.
“How the county grows affects everyone, so it was important we include all the perspectives to get a lot of insight into it,” Rogers said. “It’s the most comprehensive and collaborative economic development effort we’ve ever had in Shelby County.”
Some of the legal constraints in place have been interfering with the recruitment of new businesses. This newly developed entity will be able to help by retaining and growing existing businesses as well as recruiting new businesses.
“Sometimes businesses need assistance to help get the business off the ground. This entity will have the ability to help recruit those businesses and also provide incentives,” Scroggins said. “We will walk with them from recruitment to construction to growth and development through the chambers efforts. They won’t be alone in this.”
The entity will function as a support group, walking alongside businesses and helping with their needs in every way they can. They will take the strengths they already have and build on those to make it even better, Scroggins said..
Now that the County Commission has approved the recommendation, it is in the early part of the implementation phase. They are in the process of forming the organization legally, and in the summer, leader and support staff will be hired.
The kickoff for this new economic development partnership is Oct. 1. Their space will be in the Shelby County Services building in Pelham next to the chamber offices.