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|Holyfield leads transition committee|
Ouachita Economic Development Corp.'s board of directors has appointed a committee to work out the various issues surrounding OEDC's disbandment and incorporation into a new regional economic development agency.
OEDC board member Linda Holyfield has been placed in charge of that committee, which she said will oversee the "nitty gritty details" of the transfer of OEDC's furniture, fixtures, some $185,000 in cash and the corporation's 501(c)3 non-profit status.
"My group is basically looking at the practical logistics of doing that," said Holyfield. "My goal is to have two meetings."
The first meeting was held last week to identify the various legal and technical questions the group must answer before it can affect the transfer of assets.
So far, Holyfield's committee has identified several issues, including what to do until the yet-to-be-named regional economic development group has established its own articles of incorporation.
Specifically, the new group is soliciting donations but needs a place to keep the money.
"One of the things OEDC has to do is to open a checking account in their name because people want to deposit their dollars for the regional effort," Holyfield said.
OEDC board members approved the creation of such an account at their last meeting.
Also, Holyfield's committee is exploring the possibility of transferring the OEDC corporate status itself to the new group, which will be renamed and rechartered.
Such a move could save the new group valuable time and resources by allowing it to avoid the eight to 10-month process of establishing its own non-profit corporation, Holyfield said.
Holyfield stressed the importance of the new organization and said she was impressed with the support the group has found so far.
According to Holyfield, businesses that visit northeastern Louisiana do not consider the area as separate communities but are instead focused on the entire area as one location.
"They don't come and look at a city, they look at the region," Holyfield said. "As soon as the region starts fighting, we lose them."
The new group will serve as a unified marketing agency for Ouachita, Lincoln, Union, Morehouse and Jackson parishes.
The new regional economic development effort is spearheaded by James Davison, Ruston; former Senate President Randy Ewing, Quitman; Elton Kennedy, Mer Rouge; CenturyTel CEO Glen Post; and Ouachita Parish businessmen James Moore and Todd Perry.
Perry also serves as co-chairman of the new entity's finance committee.
The new economic development group hired RDG Inc. to conduct fundraising. It also hired another consultant to help name a chief executive officer.
Perry said he expected the fundraising campaign to kick into full swing during the month of August. Also, Perry said the CEO search has begun and is already fielding interested candidates.
"It's good to see the community come together," Perry said. "We did a tour a few weeks ago of all the five parishes."
No formal timeframe has been established for the completion of fundraising or the selection of a CEO. However, Perry has previously said he expected both of those tasks to be completed before the end of 2008.
Perry credited OEDC leadership for its assistance in helping the regional economic development group take shape.
"OEDC is doing all the right things to make this transition happen," Perry said. "So, so far so good."