Board of County Commissioners

Gadsden County, Florida


Economic Development Workshop

December 16, 2014

3:00 p.m.


Present:               Brenda Holt, Vice-Chair, District 4

                                Eric Hinson, Chair, District 1 (arrived late)

                                Dr. Anthony “Dr. V” Viegbesie, PhD, District 2

                                Gene Morgan, District 3 (arrived late)

                                Sherrie Taylor, District 5 (arrived late)

                                Robert Presnell, County Administrator

                                David Weiss, County Attorney

                                Marcella Blocker, Deputy Clerk





Commissioner Brenda Holt, Chair

  Chair Holt called the workshop to order at 3:11 p.m. and explained a couple of the Commissioners would be arriving late.  She gave the presenters the option of waiting a few minutes and they chose to wait another 5 minutes.





Gadsden County Development Council

(Lee Garner, Chairman)

  Lee Garner, Chairman of the GCDC, appeared before the Board.  He presented a Consolidated Economic Development Plan.


Commissioner Taylor appeared at this junction of the meeting.


 He said the GCDC recommended funding to be distributed as follows:


$160,000 operating budget to include retention of Beth Kirkland Consulting and Rob Nixon; $40,000 for Small Business and $40,000 in reserve.


Dr. V said was interested in hearing deliverables and benchmarks they have established.


Beth Kirkland appeared before the board and explained the accountability, inclusivity, competitiveness and their strategy for job creation and capital investment.


Commissioner Taylor stepped out at this juncture of the meeting.


 Commissioner Taylor returned at this juncture of the meeting.


Commissioner Hinson appeared at this juncture of the meeting.



Gadsden Economic Development Council

(Jack Peacock, Chairman)

  Jack Peacock, Chairman, Gadsden Economic Development Council, appeared before the Board.


He presented two documents to the Board that gave an overview of the plan.






  Dr. V asked that both presenters come to the podium to answer specific questions he had.


He asked when both were created; GCDC in 2000 and EDC in 2006.


Commissioner Morgan arrived at this juncture of the meeting.


He asked if they had considered joining forces to make one entity.


They had.


Dr. V said as long as two bodies are struggling for turf, there would be problems.


Commissioner Hinson asked if they could list names of board members. 


Commissioner Taylor said she heard that Mr. Nixon was now working with GDC.  Commissioner Taylor also disclosed that she had met with Ms. Kirkland previously.  She then asked why they had not formed a partnership before now.


Ms. Kirkland said they were collectively supportive and they have spoken on how they will continue to make progress.


Mr. Nixon said they felt they had been placed in a position to compete against each other for funding.


She stated there needed to be a plan and she felt they came with a presentation.


Commissioner Morgan apologized for being tardy in arriving for the workshop.  He said they both brought a lot to the table in what they both do and economic growth would not happen in 6 months.  He added this “was not a microwave solution but was a crock-pot problem”.


Chair Holt said the GCEC was formed by the BOCC and they asked them to bring back a plan and they did so.  She added she could not vote for this because they did what they were told to do. 


David Gardner, Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce, appeared before the Board to answer questions that Chair Holt posed.


Commissioner Hinson said he had spoken to almost everyone in the community and 1 question was how many jobs they brought in the past 5 years.


Mr. Gardner said they worked diligently with Gamboa Brothers to re-open the mushroom farm and had worked with Printing House, Quincy Joist and Higdon Furniture to try to retain their business in the County.


Commissioner Morgan stepped out at this juncture of the meeting.


Ms. Kirkland said at the last meeting Mr. Farr spoke of the possibility of a compressed natural gas company coming to the area.


Commissioner Morgan returned at this juncture of the meeting.


Dr. V stepped out at this juncture of the meeting.


Chair Holt said she wanted to hear from the Manager and wanted to hear from the public as well.


Dot Inman-Johnson appeared before the Board and said when she came a little over a year ago, she knew there were a lot of needs.  She was made aware of the GCDC and they were trying to do the same thing county-wide she was attempting.


Dr. V returned at this juncture of the meeting.


She took a Resolution to her City and they voted unanimously for it and gave money to the GCDC.  She said David Gardner decided to withdraw from the GCDC and they formed their own new entity to compete with the GCDC. 


Antonio Jefferson, City of Gretna, appeared before the Board and said he had been a part of GCDC since 2001.  Was very excited when the Board decided to look at another economic vessel for the county. 


Harold Emrich, Town of Greensboro, appeared before the Board.  He said he had urged them to be successful in “grubbing” and Ms. Kirkland referred to it as “blocking and tackling”, but above all, there was a need for utilities be available before business could come.


Dr. V stepped out at this juncture of the meeting.


Bernard Piawah, representing the City of Quincy, appeared before the Board.   He said the Chamber was very viable, but the GCDC was very important and needed them.


Lee Garner appeared before the Board and said they would do the best of their ability to work with the GEDC.


Commissioner Morgan asked that all the City representatives to come back before the Board.  He asked Dot why she went to David.


Because she knew David from the Gadsden Art Center.


He then asked everyone if looking for a new job in the State of Florida and they hired a firm that specialized job placement & because they wanted both experts


Hinson said after the last meeting, private business creates jobs.  Money been put there for infrastructure-Gadsden County doing their part.


Commissioner Morgan stepped out at this juncture of the meeting.


Dr. V said the GCDC and GEDC needed to find common ground and come together-not healthy for the county.  We need a Chamber of Commerce-he recommends that the Chamber reform their procedure.  Will not support two bodies for economic development.


Holt said the GCDC is their group-one Board put together-suggest funding GCDC-have one economic development Council and one Chamber and Mr. Nixon work with GCDC.


Linda Dixon appeared before the Board and said she had contacted the Chamber to have information packets sent to her before moving home to no avail.  Chamber not selected by citizens.  No jobs brought in by Chamber in last 10 years.


Alphonso Figgers appeared before the Board and said heard discussion about 2 groups at previous meeting-saw consolidated plan-maybe should consolidate and rename group.


Cedric Spradley, executive member of GCDC, need to take good look.


Commissioner Taylor said 3 entities before the Board, GCDC, Chamber, CEDC, each have own spin, maybe assign mediator to sit with both and come up with one plan.  Believe still issues with Chamber that need to be addressed, GCDC spent over $80,000, where’s the “pudding”, EDC is new kid, doesn’t have 501C3 yet.  GCDC established themselves & brought sister cities together.  They have newsletter but no strategic plan.  Needs to be performance based.  Need to show deliverables and documentation.  Wish Clerk were here to help with documentation.  Hoping to come up with someone neutral and bring their assets together.  Rename whole group, merge together.


Adjourned at 5:40 p.m.