Agency clarifies South Augusta economic development job

Richmond County officials are working toward creating an economic development position to focus on commercial revitalization along south Augusta corridors such as Windsor Spring Road. FILE/STAFF

Augusta’s lead economic development agency on Thursday finalized its end of the deal to create a full-time position dedicated to south Augusta.

 

Board members of the Development Authority of Richmond County approved a revised memorandum of understanding with the Augusta Commission that would enable it to hire a staff member focused on revitalizing the region – predominantly through new retail development.

The agreement, an edited version of a memorandum approved in July, more clearly spelled out “oversight and monitoring” for the commission-funded but authority-managed position. If approved by commissioners, the employee would receive direction from a six-member committee comprised of appointees from both government entities.

Creating a position to focus on “economically distressed” areas of the county comes months after a failed movement to create a stand-alone south Augusta development authority and amid Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis ’ SOGO – South of Gordon Highway – marketing initiative. Davis is also supporting an Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority proposal to put a new entertainment arena at the long-time vacant Regency Mall.

The new position would bring the authority’s full-time staff to five. The entity already is trying to fill two vacant project management positions and, by Jan. 1, 2018, will need to hire an executive director to replace Walter Sprouse, who announced his retirement Thursday.

Development Authority Chairman Henry Ingram said creating the new position would not affect the financial operations of the authority “in any way.”

But board member Terry Elam, president of Augusta Technical College, said he was still unsure which entity would bear any “liability” arising from the employee’s actions or legal costs associated with termination.

“I just know that it’s too late when it happens to decide who’s paying,” Elam said.

Ingram said the six-member committee would include such details in the final agreement.

“We can define and make sure we make that verbiage clear,” he said. “I don’t think it changes the tenor of what we’re trying to do today.”

The memorandum passed unanimously.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

 

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