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EDP chair wants to bust ‘myth’ of Industrial Foundation as ‘secret mafia’

The chair of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership hopes a new agreement between the EDP and the Boyle County Industrial Foundation can put to bed once and for all the “myth” that the Industrial Foundation is pulling the EDP’s strings behind the scenes.

EDP Chair Ben Nelson said this week he wants to sign a “marketing and management services agreement” with the Industrial Foundation, spelling out what services the EDP will provide for the BCIF and making it crystal clear that EDP President Jody Lassiter works solely for the EDP.

Lassiter has previously served as CEO and president for both the EDP and the BCIF.

The agreement states that the BCIF “is now operating without paid staff and desires to contract with the EDP for marketing and management services.”

Nelson said this final step was envisioned when the EDP developed its strategic plan and underwent a reorganization last year.

“Under the board’s reorganization, the Industrial Foundation has said, ‘We are willing to give up our shared executive, so that this community no longer is confused about what Jody Lassiter does and who he works for.’ That’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Nelson told EDP board members Wednesday. “Have y’all heard the myth? There’s a myth that Jody is in the Industrial Foundation’s pocket. He’s their puppet, and they are the secret mafia of this community, doing evil things. Have y’all heard that? I have. I’ve heard it a lot.”

The new agreement “clarifies once and for all — this guy works for us. Period,” Nelson said.

Alan Turbyfill, treasurer for the EDP and the BCIF, said the agreement spells out that the EDP is responsible for marketing the Industrial Foundation’s properties in Boyle County, as well as managing upkeep of the BCIF properties and some smaller, office-work duties.

BCIF Chair and EDP board member John Albright noted the agreement doesn’t require Lassiter to perform the services — if the EDP employs additional people, those people could handle the duties instead.

The agreement lists more than 30 services the EDP will provide to the BCIF, including:

• “market available industrial park sites to prospects for development;”

• “respond to prospect inquiries and requests for information on industrial park sites;”

• “keep BCIF board informed of all activity on industrial park property;”

• “oversee maintenance of industrial park properties and infrastructure;”

• “respond to needs, complaints of industrial park occupants;”

• “maintain BCIF office operation” and “maintain corporate records, reports and data;” and

• “manage administration of operational budget on day-to-day basis.”

A board member questioned if Lassiter would be able to take care of all the duties in the agreement.

“He does right now,” Nelson said. “He’s done it for … however long he’s worked here.”

“This is basically spelling out what Jody has been doing and does do for us,” said Cindy Ellsworth, an EDP board member appointed by the BCIF. “There’s nothing in here that he doesn’t already do for us.”

Nelson said the agreement is similar to agreements the EDP has entered into with the Convention and Visitors Bureau for marketing and office staffing services. In those cases, the EDP paid the CVB to provide services; in this case, the BCIF is essentially paying the EDP to provide services.

“This is the Foundation trying to say we need services from the partnership to be able to sustain our investment,” Nelson said.

The BCIF currently contributes $90,000 annually to the EDP’s budget, making it the largest contributor. The City of Danville is giving the EDP $72,500 this year; the Boyle County Fiscal Court is putting in $70,000.

The EDP board did not vote on the services agreement this week; Nelson said multiple representatives from Danville were absent because of a Kentucky League of Cities conference and he wanted them present for a vote.