Carbon County officials have begun the process to privatize the county economic development corporation.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to reject the proposal from the Carbon County Industrial Development Authority and move forward with the privatization of the economic development corporation. The commissioners then voted to begin the process of terminating the county IDA.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, explained that the reason for the privatization was because the county-operated economic development corporation was not able to participate in state and federal loan programs for new and existing businesses.

"In order to participate (in the loan programs), the county must privatize the economic development corporation and get it certified," he said, adding that the other option is to have another county handle the loans for Carbon.

The county will now begin the process of consolidating the economic development corporation and IDA; as well as abolishing the county economic development office. The employees in the office will now become part of the new economic development corporation.

Commissioner William O'Gurek added that this has been in the works for a few years now.

In 2009, the state Department of Community and Economic Development issued new guidelines for all agencies that are certified to execute loans on behalf of manufacturers and other businesses that are looking to expand or create new operations. The agency must be a nonprofit corporation that has experience in economic development and commercial lending.

"We have an economic development office, an economic development corporation and the industrial development authority," O'Gurek said. "I think what the commissioners believe is that the way to make this work is to use a model that is used around the state of one entity being the go to entity."

O'Gurek added that the commissioners have had discussions with all parties involved about the consolidation and privatization and after the discussions feel certifying the economic development corporation was the right path to go.

"We all believe it's in the best interest of the county," he said. "It also puts us in place for the future to help prospective businesses get monies through DCED. It's the right move."

Nothstein added that having the different agencies for economic development makes it very difficult for anyone who wants to do business in the county.

He feels that consolidating and privatizing is the right way to go.

"It's more user friendly," he said.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard agreed with both O'Gurek and Nothstein's comments, saying that this will be a good move for the county.

He added that finances are going to play a role in the move.

O'Gurek agreed with Gerhard, explaining that the county will continue to support the corporation through a grant to help cover the expenses associated with doing business.

"It's going to be a good move when it is all said and done," Gerhard said.

In other matters, the board adopted a resolution authorizing an offer to purchase property necessary for Packerton Business Park land development. The land in question is located near the Packerton Dip and would be used to create an entrance into the park.

County solicitor Daniel Miscavige said that the .51-acre property is owned by Kovatch Properties LP and its fair market value is $9,100; while the other property, which is 1.5 acres, is owned by Joseph and Sheri Marks and has a fair market value of $15,000.

He added that the resolution allows the county to extend an offer to both parties to purchase the properties at fair market value that was determined by an appraisal. It also authorizes the county to initiate any proceedings required with the imminent domain code if the offer is not accepted.

The offers are contingent on the county obtaining the necessary government approvals and that the appropriate financing is available at the time.

O'Gurek noted that the Marks' want to develop the land that sits next to the Packerton Business Park so the sale would help them complete that once the road is developed.