Local News

2/28/2013

Rep. proposing change to authority

By NIKKI WILEY The Brunswick News

A member of the Golden Isles' state delegation wants to change the way members of the local development authority are appointed, but the director of the authority the bill takes aim at says the proposal wouldn't change much.

Rep. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, wants to give the Brunswick and Glynn County commissions more control over who sits on the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority by allowing the commissions to appoint members directly.

"I think we can improve the way the board is appointed," Chapman said. "We have sort of some stagnation there, and we need to look at how it's going to be done."

The development authority courts industry and business opportunities for the community and can assist new or existing businesses with facility construction and expansions with grants and interest loans.

Chapman says he would like for the authority to be a unified front working together to improve the economy.

"What I want to do is to get our delegation, our county and our city working in unison to help Glynn County grow its industry and job opportunities and its tourism industries," Chapman said.

Those who now sit on the five-member board are approved by a joint resolution of the city and county commissions from a list of potential candidates submitted by the development authority.

The process isn't that different from what Chapman is proposing, said Nathan Sparks, executive director of the authority.

"The city and county have the right to reject the candidates," Sparks said. "They're just that - candidates."

Sparks said he was caught off guard when he learned about the proposal.

"(Chapman) has not attempted to communicate with us in any way on this subject, and I would certainly think that notifying us of his intentions would have been the first step," Sparks said.

Chapman has not discussed his proposal with members or employees of the development authority. A notice of intent to introduce local legislation was published just Wednesday in The News.

"I don't report to them. I'm a legislator. I report to the people," Chapman said, noting nothing has been introduced yet.

Glynn County Commission Chairwoman Mary Hunt wouldn't mind allowing the commission to have a more direct influence in who is involved in the authority.

"We pay more than $800,000 for economic development, and I do think we should have a say on who is on the board," Hunt said. "These are the people who are representing us and trying to get new businesses in town. I think it's important that we all get a chance to make our voices heard."

Any change in the makeup of the development authority would have to be approved by voters in the city and county.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

There are five members of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority.

* Chairman Mel Baxter, chief executive officer of United Community Bank

* Vice Chairman Bruce Dixon, president of the Dixon Management Group Inc.

* Secretary and Treasurer Cedric King, manager of human resources and safety support for Pinova

* Member Ron Roberts, vice president and chief financial officer of real estate for Sea Island Co.

* Member David Erickson, president of Haven Manufacturing