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April 25, 2014

County reaches out to city in economic development

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners directed County Administrator Randy Harris at a recent meeting to begin discussions with the city of Live Oak regarding their involvement with the county’s economic development position. 

Harris said he plans to meet with Live Oak City Administrator Kerry Waldron prior to the council’s next monthly meeting in May. 

The county had selected Shane Farnsworth of Columbus, Ohio, as their new economic development director. However, at the April 1 commission meeting, Harris told the board Farnsworth had rejected the offer, citing a family illness as his reason. 

At the same meeting the board directed Harris and Chamber Chairman Bruce Tillman to work out an agreement for Chamber Executive Director Austin Richmond to serve as the entry person for new companies seeking to locate in Suwannee County. If the chamber agreed, once the initial contact with the company had occurred, the information would have been turned over to the county to continue discussions. 

During a county commission meeting April 15, Harris told the commissioners the chamber board was not interested in entertaining an interlocal agreement regarding economic development and/or the associated position. 

“They finally voted and said they didn’t want, at this time, to do anything with the county on this economic development,” Harris said. 

Harris said the chamber noted Richmond has a loaded agenda and could potentially be too much for him to take on the added responsibilities. 

Harris asked the board to consider partnering with the city of Live Oak in an effort to further economic development.

Harris also said he has spoken with members of the Live Oak City Council who have shown interest in exploring the possibilities of a joint effort between the council and commissioners for economic development.

“I think if we do something with the city, it helps them and it helps us,” Harris said. 

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