Ken Kline, chair of the Taney County (Missouri) Industrial Development Authority (IDA), persuaded the Taney County Commission yesterday to fund an Office of Economic Development, so that Taney County will have people actively pursuing money dedicated to rural projects in the stimulus package pushed through Congress by the Obama Administration.
Ken’s presentation was well-organized, with detailed descriptions of the duties of the persons that he wanted the county to hire. The request suggested that these county employees report to the IDA, which consists of unpaid appointees.
I spoke in support of Ken’s proposal and pointed out that many of the functions of the proposed Office of Economic Development were within the statutory duties of the county’s planning commission, but were not currently being performed.
Sarah Klinefelter, chair of the planning commission, agreed that the planning commission had been primarily responding to requests for zoning permits, rather than performing its planning function. New county commissioner Jim Strafuss told me after the meeting that the county commission had issued an RFP for a comprehensive plan.
I hope that rural counties in the Ozarks will take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade roads and bridges, water and sewer facilities, school buildings, and parks and to establish technology facilities. Otherwise, we’ll be faced with doing our part to pay for improvements made elsewhere, putting us even further behind.