Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce President Jim West has been doing a lot of planning lately.
Most of it, though, has been preparing for the worst.
"If the city of Augusta decides not to continue the contract with the chamber, if they should decide they don't want to fund the chamber for whatever reason, there are some consequences," he said. "We will have to cut back somewhere."
While local government officials consider whether to form a city-run economic development department, the chamber is considering what impact losing public funding would have on its ability to market the region.
Since the city began studying the idea of a new office, the chamber has not received about $146,000 it gets annually from the county and the Richmond County Development Authority.
City Administrator George Kolb said Wednesday that he has does not have a set date for when he will present recommendations about the office to the Augusta Commission.
Normally the public funding would have been received at the beginning of the year when the chamber renews its economic development contracts with Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.
If the money is not approved, Mr. West said the chamber would likely adjust by cutting back on marketing efforts, such as trade shows, promotional materials and advertising.
But he said the worst case scenario would be one where Richmond County's decision sets off a pattern.
"If Richmond County says they're not going to fund the contract, we may see Columbia County do the same thing as well," he said.
"The third leg, the really worst case scenario, is that Burke County looks at all this confusion ... and they take their funding out."
Barry Fleming, the chairman for the Columbia County Commission, said he does not expect the county to pull its funding for the chamber's contract.
"We encourage Richmond County to do the same," he said, "because we have to have a regional approach (to economic development)."
Contracts from the three counties provide the chamber with more than $322,000 a year for marketing them. In total, through private contributions and membership dues, the chamber used about $970,000 last year for economic development.
Since January, the chamber had held off on filling an open position for a permanent vice president for economic development while it waited for the county to make a decision.
"We are going to fill that position," he said, "and we will continue to be a regional economic development agency for the three counties that we represent now and anybody else that comes into that."
Annual contributions from the three counties contracting with the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce for economic development:
Richmond County: $146,000
Columbia County: $142,896
Burke County: $33,750
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or email@example.com.