Originally created 05/16/03

Chamber forms plan for agency



Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce officials hope to have details of their new economic development agency worked out by the summer.

"By the end of this quarter would be my goal," said chamber President Ed Presnell.

He said the group is in the midst of finalizing drafts of legal documents, such as bylaws and a budget, for the proposed Augusta Regional Partnership.

The agency is intended to take over the chamber's economic development function. The previous economic development program, called Forward Together, was folded into the chamber's operation.

The new program is expected to help answer questions about how development officials balance marketing the region with promoting individual counties.

Richmond County's economic developer, Walter Sprouse, encountered some of those questions while detailing a new marketing plan Thursday during the Richmond County Development Authority's board meeting.

Chairman Charles Walker wanted to know how much of the authority's proposed $86,000 plan would include promoting just Richmond County.

"If we're going to spend $8,000 on a brochure, it's suppose to be pretty close to Richmond County-specific," he said. "I thought the strategy was going to be to use a regional marketing approach and then try to narrow it down to specifics."

While the authority is responsible for Richmond County's economic recruitment, the chamber receives $323,000 worth of contracts to market Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

The new regional partnership would take over that money as a way to separate it from the chamber's operational budget.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com