GLASGOW – The Barren County Economic Authority agreed unanimously Friday to provide a per capita share of funding toward keeping a Small Business Development Center going for the Barren River Area.
The cost is $12,630 for a year for Barren County’s portion of the cash match required for the Bowling Green-based center to continue. Previously, Western Kentucky University had covered the cash match required by the U.S. Small Business Administration. WKU had made it known it would stop at the end of the federal fiscal year, which is Sept. 30; however, it has committed to still providing the in-kind contribution of space for the offices, said Ron Bunch, CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and interim executive director for BCEA.
Allen, Logan and Warren counties, through their respective economic development organizations, are also on board so far to help provide the funding, which is anticipated to cover 1.5 employees.
Ernie Myers, executive vice president and chief operations officer for the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce, said the area a seasoned business professional from SBDC had visited the chamber office monthly for the past 24 years to provide consultations, advice and assistance to individuals involved with small businesses, mostly with developing a business plan to start or expand, but also providing other guidance at no cost.
“The SBDC has been vital to small business for our group …,” Myers said. “The chamber would consider it a terrible thing if we lost this vital asset. It’s an asset not only for the chamber but for the entire community. … I would encourage you to vote on the positive side.”
The six members present approved the expenditure, or as Bunch said, “to invest” the money in the program.
With the majority of the members of the Barren County Economic Authority being newly appointed and an interim executive director in place, the vast majority of the agenda for Friday’s regular meeting contained what might be considered “housekeeping” items, starting with the election of a new slate of officers.
David Peterson is the new chair, Gary Hartell vice chair, Jim Lee secretary and Gary Norman treasurer, with the first three carrying over with existing terms. Norman is new on board of directors but, as a Glasgow Common Council member, had been actively involved with a loosely formed committee that worked on revisions of the interlocal agreement among all of Barren County’s four governing bodies that established the economic authority.
The amended ILA allows, but does not require, that elected officials may serve as voting members on the authority’s board of directors, and the Glasgow council opted to make one of the city’s three appointees one of them. The mayor nominated Norman, and he was unanimously approved, as was Joe David Houchens, the city’s other new appointee. Hartell is also appointed by Glasgow. Peterson is Cave City’s sole appointee. Barren County Fiscal Court had wanted to make the three magistrates on the Economic Development Committee its three appointees. One prior member’s term had expired and one of the two with unexpired terms chose to step down but the other, Jim Lee, said he wanted to finish his term. A misunderstanding about his intentions led to some confusion at the previous meeting, which Lee and two of the three magistrates intended as appointees – Carl Dickerson and Mark Bowman – attended. As the group prepared to cast votes on an item at that meeting, BCEA attorney Rich Alexander said Lee was still a member and, as those were the magistrates present at the time, they should go ahead and cast votes as well.
Barren County Fiscal Court has met twice since then and has not addressed the matter publicly. At Friday’s meeting, at which Bowman was absent but Magistrate Trent Riddle, the third member of that fiscal court committee, was present, Alexander said it was his understanding that Dickerson and Bowman would continue as members from the fiscal court but Riddle had agreed to attend regularly and observe with the intent that he would be appointed to take Jim Lee’s slot when his term expires next year. Riddle and Judge-Executive Micheal Hale, who is among the nonvoting members, said that was correct.
Other such matters included:
• Updating the registered agent, a person who serves as the official point of contact for the organization as listed with the Kentucky Secretary of state. Magistrate Carl Dickerson volunteered to serve in that capacity.
• Updating the individuals approved as signators on the authority’s accounts, assigning the four officers.
• Ratifying the budget for the current fiscal year that had already been approved by the prior board.
• Assigning committee appointments, which was tabled with the intent of looking at the committee structure to see whether it still fits needs. Standing committees previously have been Property, Finance and Administrative.
• Procurement of an auditing firm and depository institution, with the intent to advertise for bids for both, and attorney, with Alexander chosen to continue as BCEA counsel.
• Provision of documents used by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce with the boards of organizations with which it contracts to provide management services, with a request for feedback on whether this board may want to adopt similar formats tailored to its needs. They included policies on fraud, conflict of interest, confidentiality, antitrust compliance, partner support issues, harassment, code of conduct and political candidates.
• Provision of a packet of current oversight documents for BCEA, including the interlocal agreement, policies and procedures, personnel policy and guidelines, and articles of incorporation.
• Receiving and providing status updates on logo, website, etc. and marketing.
The board of directors for the authority also went into closed session for roughly 30 minutes to discuss property, proposed or pending litigation and proposals. No action was taken on those once the open session resumed.