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Delegate looking into business agency
A member of Glynn County's state delegation wants to investigate the efficiency of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority.

State Rep. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, sent the authority that is responsible for courting business for the Golden Isles and retaining businesses an extensive request for records under the Georgia Open Records Act. Chapman's request includes information on the authority's check register since July 2009, names of all the authority board members and Glynn County Airport commissioners since 2000.

It also is asking for information on the current lease between Gulfstream Aerospace and the authority, as well as the total amount spent on improvements to Gulfstream's facility at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

Chapman says he wants to make sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.

"With the (development authority) receiving almost $900,000 a year of taxpayers' money to create job opportunities in Glynn County, I want to validate the return on investment taxpayers are receiving," Chapman said.

He also requested the Glynn County Airport Commission's check register, but that information is kept by the commission itself, not the development authority.

Chapman introduced a bill in the state legislature this year that would change how members are appointed to the authority. The bill did not go before a vote before the General Assembly session ended.

Currently, board members are interviewed by the authority and a list of candidates is submitted to the Glynn County and Brunswick commissions for approval or rejection. Chapman's bill, which can be taken up when the legislature reconvenes in January, would give the ability to make appointments directly to county commissioners.

Mel Baxter, chairman of the authority's board, maintains the current method works and implementing Chapman's suggestion would eliminate the city's say.

Chapman stands by his position. "It is my opinion that having (development authority) appointees select their successors is not a healthy process. If we want to promote the (authority's) ability to grow job opportunities for our community, then we need a wide open, transparent and democratic process for the selection of (authority) members," Chapman said.

The authority hasn't been directly approached by Chapman about his proposal, Baxter said, but members are willing to discuss any potential improvements.

The success of the development authority may not easily be visible, Baxter said.

Many want to measure the success through new companies that have moved into the Golden Isles, but that's not all the authority does, he said. The board has readied infrastructure for future tenants, making it easier to market the area to companies looking to expand.

"We've worked with a lot of our local companies around here to either help them expand or create jobs and we've worked with a couple of companies that were going to leave," Baxter said. "You can't just measure what the development authority does by the number of jobs that are brought in."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com.



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