06/13/05 — Duplin EDC goes non-profit

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Duplin EDC goes non-profit

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 13, 2005 1:50 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Switching Duplin County's economic development efforts from county control to two non-profit groups will boost business in the county, said county officials who approved the move last week.

Duplin County commissioners gave their blessing Thursday to the formation of two non-profit corporations to promote economic development on behalf of the county.

The organizations are expected to be self-sufficient within a few years.

Woody Brinson, who has served as director of the county's EDC office for 20 years, said non-profit organizations are able to obtain grants and accept donations that local government agencies cannot.

Businesses prefer to deal with non-profits for those reasons, Brinson said.

Non-profit status will allow the commission to get more people involved in economic development, EDC Chairman Pat Renfro told commissioners. Renfro said it will take six months to a year for the commission to get the non-profit corporations formed and "all the legalese out of the way."

Dr. Ken Newbold said that as a non-profit, the commission would be able to get more business and professional people involved by selling memberships. He said the EDC wants to form twin corporations, a 501 C-6 to make the membership dues tax deductible and a 501 C-3 for tax deductible contributions to the educational aspects of economic development.

The corporations would complement each other, Newbold said. As a 501 C-6, the commission could lobby lawmakers for grant money and not lose its tax exempt status.

Commissioners questioned whether the county would lose more than it gained by giving up control of the commission. Commissioners are accountable for the spending of taxpayers' money and the results of efforts to bring jobs to Duplin, they said.

Commissioner L.S. Guy said he wanted to be able to explain to county residents how the two boards will interact after the commission becomes a non-profit organization

"There has to be an element of trust," Newbold told commissioners.

Newbold said he has not seen any loss of accountability in the counties that work with non-profit corporations. He said he saw Scotland County attract nine industries in two years.

"I've worked with many," he said, "and I see nothing but beautiful cooperation and improved economic development."