Funding The EDA

I dare say, few Loudon County citizens know what the EDA is. The EDA is The Loudon County Economic Development Agency. It's no part of Loudon County government even though the county gives then a pile of money every year. The EDA is actually just a non-profit organization. Below is a little historical info on the EDA.

The Loudon County Economic Development Agency, Inc. was originally created on May 24, 1965, as the Loudon County Industrial Commission, Inc. and later chartered as a private non-profit organization under the Tennessee’s Secretary of State on August 9, 1985 as Loudon County Industrial Committee of 100, Inc.

OnApril 25, 2000, the Board approved a change in name, membership and expansion of the organization’s role as the Joint Economic and Community Development Board under Public Chapter 1101. Under this role, the Agency is responsible for coordinating governmental and private industrial development and economic development activities in Loudon County.

The Agency is governed by a eight-member board comprised of one member each from the three governments, and one member each representing the County Commission, Lenoir City Committee of 100 for Industrial Development, Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, Greenbelt Property Owner and one member appointed at-large. Each serves a two-to-four-year term. The Agency employs an Executive Director and staff to plan and coordinate the Agency’s development activities. Financial support for the Agency is provided by Loudon County, City of Loudon, Lenoir City and Lenoir City Industrial Committee of 100.

So the purpose for the EDA is to bring economic development to the county, creating jobs and generally being an asset for the county and cities. There are some who believe the EDA does a good job for the county. I am not one of those people. I guess if someone could show me one success from the EDA in the last 15 years I could get on board. But that's not the reason for this story.

The issue here is how the EDA is funded. Some years ago, Loudon, Lenoir City and Loudon County entered into an agreement to fund this organization. Not sure who's brain child the funding scheme was but it sure left the county tax payers holding the bag.

Currently, Loudon County pays about 68%, Loudon City pays about 15% and Lenoir City pays about 14% with the balance coming from the Committee of 100. In dollar amounts that comes to the county paying $162,545.00, Loudon paying $36,096.00 and Lenoir City paying $32,793.00. I don't know about you, but the first question that jumps out at me is, why does the county pay four or five times more than the two cities? Especially given that all the industries and businesses that the EDA has supposedly brought in have located in one cities.

I recently proposed to the county budget committee that if all the government bodies felt that the EDA was such a vital asset, maybe all three governments should fund the EDA equally. that would come to about $77,000.00 each. Makes sense to me.

Personally, I don't think the EDA is worth any tax dollars but somehow they keep getting a boat load.