The privatization of the new Carbon County Economic Development Corporation is almost complete.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 2-0 to an agreement with the CCEDC to have the group provide economic development assistance services to the county. The agreement shall take effect April 1 and run through April 1, 2016. Commissioner William O'Gurek was absent from the meeting.
County solicitor Daniel Miscavige noted prior to the vote that the CCEDC will begin operating as its own entity on April 1.
The new CCEDC will consist of the consolidation of the current CCEDC, the Carbon County Industrial Development Authority and the county economic development office. The employees of the office will become part of the new economic development corporation.
Miscavige said that right now, this is a tentative schedule because the IDA has yet to vote to terminate the group.
"Everyone is working together and moving toward the same goal," he added.
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 a November 2012 meeting, the commissioners explained that the privatization has been in the works for a few years.
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.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard noted that this will allow for "one-stop shopping" for area businesses.
"It's going to be beneficial for the county," he said.
Nothstein added that this will be more centralized for businesses who want to apply for a loan because they will not have to go to a number of groups to do so.
Once the privatization is complete, the group will be located in its own office space, possibly with the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce in the professional building in Lehighton.
Nothstein said the move would be good for both groups because it would allow more staff at the office site.
In other matters, Nothstein also announced that the total cost the municipalities will have to split in the narrowband project is $12,799.
The total cost of the project, which included the switchover of radios that were capable of receiving lower frequencies, was approximately $920,000. Of that total, the county received a $907,000 grant from the state local share funds.
Nothstein said that the county will now work on determining the percentage that each municipality is responsible for from the remaining balance.
"This is a prime example of what can happen if the county and municipalities work together on a project," he said. "Had each municipality and the county submitted a grant application on their own, very few if any would have gotten a grant."
He said that he hopes that the county and municipalities can work together in the future to help get projects accomplished.
Carbon County has been working on the narrowband radio project with area municipalities since early 2011 when the county commissioners decided to help ease the burden that emergency personnel were facing as a result of the federal mandate by applying for a countywide grant.
The county hired Delta Development Group Inc. of Mechanicsburg at a cost of $10,000 to handle the $1.4 million Local Share grant application.
In January 2012, county officials received word that they would be receiving $907,453 of local share funds to complete the project.