Janine Rywak, executive director of Anson County Cooperative Extension, reported that already, a major contributor has pledged to donate a substantial amount of money to help fund the construction of the proposed agri-civic center. “If we need to create a 501 (c) (3),” Rywak asked, “would the AEDC be willing to house the funds?”
Fred Sparger replied that if the AEDC were to do that, the IRS rules would need to be carefully studied, while Don Altieri pointed out that the group also needs to check its bylaws before making any decision on the agri-civic center. The AEDC will coordinate with Rywak to ensure that any donations for the agri-civic center are handled properly, and that there is an adequate paper trail.
County Manager Lawrence Gatewood said that in addition to the new agri-civic center, a new hospital will also be a powerful economic development tool for the county. He said that while the agri-civic center will be on the east side of Wadesboro, a new hospital will likely be on the west side.
He pointed out that at last month’s AEDC meeting, Pee Dee Electric donated $10,000 for the new agri-civic center, and Rywak had since received another donation that wasn’t asked for. Gatewood estimated that the agri-civic center would cost about $10 million, and said that the county does plan to support a fundraising campaign.
“If we could get 100 people or organizations to give $10,000, we’d have $1 million, or 10 percent of the cost,” he said. “Or, if the community gave $5 million and the county gave $5 million, we’d be there. It is doable.”
Gatewood said the plan is for construction to start on the agri-civic center in 2016, but he’d like to see that timeline accelerated and start in 2014.
On the subject of a new hospital, Don Scarborough said although a new facility would definitely be an economic development tool, “there is a downside, and that’s the number of employees will go from 300 to 100.” While that figure may be accurate, Gatewood said that he had toured the current hospital the day before, “and some floors were sparsely populated.”
Gatewood toured the facility with the idea of potentially relocating the county’s offices there, rather than demolishing the building. “It may be too much space for us, quite honestly,” he added. The county plans to make its recommendations for how to best use the current hospital building by April 2013, Gatewood said.
In other business, tourism director Dave Smith said the county needs to work on “brand recognition instead of bland recognition.” He compared the county’s current websites to looking at pavement, and said those in the county who are responsible for tourism and economic development need to be more proactive in expressing that Anson County is a great place to live. He also suggested expanding the county’s presence on social media vehicles like Facebook and Twitter.
The AEDC will next meet on Dec. 20 at 7:30 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce office, 107-A E. Wade St. in Wadesboro.