A local non-profit group was reorganized this fall and is seeking ways to consolidate public services in the county to save money.
The Bourbon County Economic Development Council, BEDCO, has been around for 28 years. But recently the 501c-3 non-profit organization has been “reconstituted”, according to Gregg Motley, president of the group.
Incorporated towns in the county, and entities such as school districts were asked to provide a representative to the council.
They had their first meeting as a new council on Oct. 22.
“At that first meeting, several communities hadn’t finalized their choice of representation,” Motley said.
They met again in November, then last week.
Motley was chosen as the president of BEDCO on Dec. 3. At that time Jim Fewins was selected as vice president and Mary Pemberton as treasurer.
“No one as yet has taken the secretary position, I am doing double duty,” Motley said.
Following the Dec. 3 meeting, “Assignments were given,” Motley said. “We won’t meet again until January. There is a lot of work behind the scenes in those assignments to be completed.”
BEDCO in the past
Representing the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce, Motley was a member of the group before it was “reconstituted”, along with current members Fort Scott City Commissioner Randy Nichols and Bourbon County Commissioner Lynn Oharah.
“The focus had narrowed,” Motley said. “We wanted broader representation and focus in the county. They had become focused on the industrial park in Fort Scott.”
BEDCO in the future
A committee was formed earlier in the year, led by Mark McCoy.
“What was left of BEDCO considered consolidating services in the county and they formed a committee to look into it,” Motley said.
“We discovered a lot of distrust between the rural and city populations,” Motley said. “Our conclusion was it’s not possible to look at consolidating government, but could look at consolidating services.”
“We talked to people around the county who observed there was a duplication of economic development directors,” he said. “The City of Fort Scott and Bourbon County Commission both had economic directors. Our committee suggested we start there, to serve all the county.”
Consolidation of the economic development directors would include sharing of costs and reducing overall investment, he said.
“More effort, less money,” Motley said.
“Economic development would be consolidated into one position and employed by BEDCO,” he said. “We would hire that person and there would be an office. We are going to take our time. We are close to having a job description and a human resource routine for that position.”
Not all on board
The Bourbon County Commissioners agreed to buy-in on the idea by appropriating money to a future position and eliminating their economic director’s position when that happens, Motley said.
“The City of Fort Scott has not taken up the issue,” Motley said. “It did not appear they had any interest in giving up their economic director position. My hope is they will get behind this effort.”
Following is a list of the current BEDCO members:
Lynne Oharah, Randy Nichols, Jess Ervin, Mike Blevins, Michael Stewart, Mary Pemberton, Misty Adams, Ted Hessong, Bret Howard, Jim Fewins, Gregg Motley, Mark McCoy, and Heather Davis.