Junction City rejoins EDP; anonymous donor pays city’s membership fee

An anonymous donor has paid Junction City’s $1,500 fee to rejoin the Boyle County Economic Development Partnership as a voting member. The council voted unanimously not renew its membership in December because they felt like being a member wasn’t worth the price.

At the city council meeting in Junction City Thursday night, Mayor Jim Douglas told the council that their fee had been paid to rejoin. On Friday, Douglas said he was “in a way” surprised that someone, stepped in to ensure that the city would be a voting member of the EDP. “I have no clue” as to who paid the fee, he said.

Douglas added, “We need to be a part of that (EDP). I was not pleased with what was going on before.”

What happened before was that the EDP “fired” the city’s representative in September without consulting him or the city council. And EDP officials didn’t contact the city about the situation or inquire who Junction City wanted to appoint for its replacement. Then, Junction City received its annual bill for $1,501.

In November, Douglas appointed Ryan Owens as the city’s rep, but during the council’s December meeting they voted unanimously — and without discussion — not to pay the fee and withdraw from the EDP.

On Friday, Owens said after a discussion with EDP’s Chair Marty Gibson, CEO Jody Lassiter, and Douglas in December, He was able to stay connected with the EDP for Junction City, but didn’t have a vote on any matters.

“Since that time I have been in discussion with members I know on the board and felt like it was imperative that Junction City become a voting member once again. I believe sometime last month, a local business person paid Junction City’s fee so that it could have a voting member on the board again,” Owens explained.

“Being a voting member on the EDP board will now allow Junction City to communicate its needs more effectively to the EDP leadership,” Owens said.

“Obviously none of us have a crystal ball and can predict what will happen over the next few years with the economy, but our hope is that the EDP will have a better knowledge of the inventory available of undeveloped land and office space. I also see a few planning meetings in the near future with EDP leadership, the mayor and myself to establish a plan for both moving forward,” Owens said.

“The EDP sometimes gets a bad name because the public truly doesn’t understand all the EDP does or the community as a whole. Like anything else, it’s all about developing relationships and building on those relationships.”

He added, “I have no doubt that if a business comes calling to the EDP and needs something Junction City has, the EDP will do whatever it can to make that happen.”

Gibson said that Owens has been working “with Mayor Douglas and Jody Lassiter to help identify how the EDP can assist Junction City in their economic growth efforts.”

He added, “The EDP works to promote economic growth throughout the county. We want to assist Junction City and their elected officials meet the economic growth goals they hope to achieve. It’s great to have them back and Ryan Owens will do a great job representing their interests.”

Gibson said, “It’s important for all of our local governments to partner in economic development efforts. Balanced growth throughout the county should be a win-win. Understanding what each has to offer and maximizing each community’s strengths, enhances our ability to attract new investments.”