published: Friday, October 11, 2013
EDC postpones annual banquet
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING -- Officials of the Highlands County Economic Development Commission have announced that they are pulling the plug on the annual banquet, at least for the time being.
The event, which had been set for Oct. 24, was to have had a Las Vegas theme with the tag line of "What Locates in Highlands County, Stays in Highlands County!"
In addition to the annual presentation of the Business Excellence Award a special recognition of time and service was slated to be presented to a number of former board members, including the recently retired South Florida State College President Dr. Norman Stephens and former Florida Hospital chief Tim Cook, who recently moved to a new post in Deland.
Paul McGehee, chairman of the EDC board, said that because of entertainment and other expenses which were part of the fundraising dinner and a lighter than anticipated early response for tickets, it was decided to wait until after the annual IDA/EDC retreat to decide if, when and how the banquet and awards ceremony might be staged.
"We thought it was prudent to defer it at this point, at least until after our retreat," he said.
That gathering is set for Oct. 16 at the Heartland Workforce Center on U.S. 27 south of Sebring. Members are expected to discuss plans on how to conduct business in the wake of the defunding of the group during recent county budget discussions.
"The retreat is where we are going to look at our strategic plan, our fundraising activities and things of that nature," he said. "I think we need to set measurable goals and standards."
The day will commence with a 7:30 a.m. business meeting, then will continue into an extended session. Rather than a full-blown retreat, however, EDC officials expected the event will only run about half a day.
Stephen Weeks, executive director of the IDA/EDC, said there was no formal agenda for what will be "a wide open session."
"We left it open so members could talk about what they're proposing to be the future of the organization," he said.
During August budget hearings, Highlands County commissioners instructed IDA/EDC officials that they could "live on their savings" at least for the next six months while fundraising efforts were underway.
They also indicated they wanted to see some results from efforts to recruit and retain business here.
"We have a limited amount of funding currently and that's our budget," said Weeks.
In the meantime, a private sector fundraising effort has been under way. Weeks said that program has not been as aggressive as first hoped when it was started.
"Actually, we have been trying to figure out what we are going to do here at the office," said Weeks. "I've lost two people so I have been looking at the internal structure of the organization and the delegation of responsibilities."
Living off savings (by: Rose - 10/12/2013)
Seems Weeks has resigned himself to the notion that when the funding is over its all over.
Do it yourself business (by: Vesti - 10/12/2013)
Many organizations have had to scale down and workers pick up the slack of those that are gone. Non-profits especially need to have working board members, not just folks who sit on a board for name recognition. The EDC was already bloated with staff. Scaling back demands re-invention and the tax payers should not be funding an institution that really has no been performing what it was created to perform. As for fund raising, Weeks is responsible for that. If it is not aggressive as it should be, then its on him.
EDC Banquet (by: Kent Steele - 10/11/2013)
"What Locates in Highlands County? Nothing." This would be a more appropriate theme for an EDC banquet.
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