Published on : Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Promoters have been asked to go ahead with all their efforts for boosting Columbia County’s already-robust tourism industry next year, in spite of the uncertain future of the Columbia County Economic Development Corp.
The group is the parent organization for the Columbia County Visitors Bureau, whose board met in Rio yesterday. Lengthy discussions were held not only about the economic group’s jeopardy, but also of what statistics county officials could cite to measure the success of any entity whose purpose is to promote economic development.
Columbia County’s proposed 2018 budget, presented Oct. 18 to the County Board, includes full funding ($121,070) for Columbia County Economic Development Corp. However, the County Board’s Finance Committee decided to put a little more than half that amount, or $60,540, into reserves, in order to release it during 2018’s second half with Finance Committee recommendation and County Board approval.
Columbia County Supervisor Andy Ross of Poynette, who is also the chairman of the economic development group’s executive committee, said that he is confident that the full allocation will be available in 2018, with either the full release of the money during the year or a budget amendment next month to guarantee release of the full $121,070.
Columbia County Supervisor Nancy Long of Lodi said many county agencies face budgetary uncertainty. “We’re losing people,” she said, “and we’re going to have to lose some functions.”
Marianne Hanson, executive director of the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce, said that when people hear the term “economic development,” they tend to think of efforts to attract factories that employ many people. But manufacturing isn’t the only important industry in Columbia County. “Sometimes people don’t see tourism as economic development,” Hanson said. “But it is economic development.”