EDA starts regular meetings, elects officers
Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023
By Fiona Morgan
The Danville Boyle County Economic Development Authority has started up regular meetings with a few new members as of late summer.
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Terry Crowley is the new EDA chairman, appointed in June by the City of Danville and Boyle County Fiscal Court. Crowley had been an interim president of the newly-reformed Danville Boyle County Development Corporation for six months.
He helped that organization transition from the Economic Development Partnership, which had a large board, to the smaller, more efficient DBCDC. Crowley said the city and county were looking for someone who was experienced and willing to volunteer to help jumpstart the EDA.
The EDA decided at a meeting in July that its regular board meetings are every third Monday of the month at 3 p.m. at Danville City Hall.
John Roush, who is a former president of Centre College, was the previous chairman appointed in 2021. He is still part of the EDA as Danville’s citizen appointee.
The EDA was formed in late 2021 as an agency for public land acquisition. It can use public dollars to buy land that could be developed and sold to companies, in order to help grow the local economy.
Crowley explained that before he came on, the EDA met occasionally or as needed, but this year there was a lull in meetings.
“I’m not entirely sure why, I know the Development Corporation was reformulated, so I’m not entirely sure why the [EDA] did not meet,” Crowley said. “There were a few little odds and ends that needed to be finished up, which we have done now.”
He said the EDA did not have a bank account or budget, so they couldn’t do too much.
With several new elected officials as of January, including new magistrates, judge executive, and Danville mayor, the EDA has new members.
The EDA board has seven members that are volunteer positions. Automatic members include the Boyle County Judge Executive (currently Trille Bottom), Danville mayor (currently James Atkins), Danville City Manager (currently Earl Coffey), and the Fiscal Court appoints a magistrate, the current appointee being Steve Sleeper. The county and city also appoint one citizen each.
Danville appointed John Roush, and the county appointed David Williams, who owns Burkmann Nutrition. Both were original members appointed in 2021.
Along with other little things they needed to take care of, Crowley said one thing they needed to do was elect officers. The new Vice Chair is James Atkins, and the Secretary / Treasurer is Trille Bottom.
The EDA has a set of bylaws, which are internal operating rules, but Crowley said they’re in the process of making some adjustments to them.
“We have a set, they just need to be modified,” Crowley said. “The bylaws as they were passed didn’t correctly state, for example, that the board members’ terms are staggered.
Crowley said the terms are all four years, but they want the reappointment years to be staggered so everyone doesn’t have to be reappointed all at once.
“Some members should’ve been designated to have two year terms, some three year terms and some four years, and that didn’t really happen,” he said. “We’ve gone back and corrected that and assigned staggered terms to certain people.”
The shorter appointments only impact the first cycle of people. After the first two and three-year appointments, those terms are four years.
If a new mayor or judge executive comes into office, those people are automatically on the board. However, if a new magistrate comes in to represent the district of the current magistrate appointee, that new person is not necessarily appointed. Crowley said the fiscal court could opt to change the magistrate appointed, but the reappointment schedule wouldn’t change. He said that’s how it’s written in Kentucky law.
Since Crowley came on, the EDA got a bank account open, started financial reports, made sure everyone understood their obligations, and the documents that formed the EDA.
“We are a public agency subject to open meetings and open records, and they had not completed the registration with the state for that, so we completed that registration,” Crowley said. “It’s crazy little stuff like that, you just want to make sure it’s right; it doesn’t impact operations at all, it’s just one of those things you have to write according to statute.”
Crowley said as long as all the different economic development groups keep working together, the EDA is set up for future success. While the EDA’s function is to increase inventory of industrial commercial property, the DBCDC is an umbrella organization that oversees all economic development activities. The EDA is a member of it, along with the Industrial Foundation.
The Boyle County Industrial Foundation is a private property acquisition and development corporation that’s been around for decades. They don’t have access to public funds. Crowley explained that governments have a hard time awarding money to private industrial foundations, whereas the EDA can access state and federal grants.
In February, the EDA was awarded a $744,000 state grant from the Kentucky Product Development Initiative for land acquisition, which the EDA has to match.
The KPDI is a new statewide effort to support upgrades at industrial sites to help economic growth. Local governments and economic development organizations can apply for funding for infrastructure improvement projects.
This is the EDA’s first major land-acquisition project. It started the application process in September 2022. The EDA comes up with a concept for the project, finds the land, prepares the land, then markets it for companies.
The land they will buy is a piece of empty Norfolk Southern Railroad property on the Danville bypass. It’s currently an 83-acre cornfield by the railroad tracks where they cross the bypass.
Their hopes are for the property to become an intermodal transportation logistics facility, a place for companies to get access to railroads, roads, the bypass, truck shipping, etc. They plan to improve utilities and access to that property so it’s more marketable to companies.
“There have been several attempts to develop industrial accounts on that property that have all fallen short, and the main reason is the access,” Crowley said.
The first grant portion of $744,000 is a reimbursement match for buying the property. Phase two of the grant will provide additional funds of up to $2 million for improvements to the site.
Crowley said there’s other properties on the bypass they’re looking to possibly acquire, but each project is a major ordeal.
“I think we’re in a really good place to see some good success, but these projects are long-haul projects,” he said. “They don’t come about in two or three months, sometimes it takes two or three years, so we just have to learn to be patient.”