Months of wrangling over industry recruitment ended with a whimper Wednesday as the Charleston region’s central job-creating agency agreed to changes in its governing rules.
The board of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance voted unanimously to alter its bylaws to reflect what role it plays in business recruitment in conjunction with member counties Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester.
The move came after differences between the three counties and the alliance boiled to the surface last summer and were ironed out just before Christmas. The group’s action Wednesday closed the rancorous chapter that threatened to weaken the agency and lead to the formation of a new industry-recruiting group.
The three counties that help finance the alliance withheld their funding and threatened to create an alternate group if the alliance didn’t change the way it interacted with them and new business prospects.
The proposed bylaw revisions came directly out of talks with the counties in the fall to patch up publicly aired differences over how the region woos new companies and other employers. The primary changes center on favoritism, industrial recruitment and executive committee membership.
“No favoritism is to be granted among investors with CRDA, and investors should join for the purpose of increasing economic development for the tri-county area, not for individual gain or favor,” according to one change.
Another ensures that as soon as a prospect narrows its focus to one county, officials from that county will assume the lead role in courting the employer with support from the alliance.
The 11-member executive committee is now expanded to eight members from private industry and seven from the public sector. The public representatives will consist of two from each county and one rotating member representing local municipalities that contribute money to the alliance.
“I know we stumbled a little bit last year, but I think it was for the best,” Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey said. “We are only as good as our weakest part. As a team we can do phenomenal things with this region.”
Alliance Chairman Lonnie Carter said the group has been an effective organization for 20 years, and the partnership between the public and private sectors has been key to that success.
“The bylaw revisions approved (Wednesday) further strengthen this partnership,” he said. “With this renewed commitment to regional economic development, I know we’ll be even more successful in the years to come.”
After the three counties gave presentations on their job recruitment efforts, Carter said, “A lot has to go on when the rubber meets the road to market the region.”
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.