Economic Development, IPADs top County Council discussion

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By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council moved quickly through a moderately busy agenda Tuesday night, before adjourning until the new year.

Several items were brought before the full Council by the finance committee. Foremost among those items was the question of whether or not the County should consider building an industrial facility on speculation, in an effort to attract more businesses to the area.

The finance committee discussed the matter Friday, with a lively exchange of ideas and comments between committee chairman Francis Crowder and Eddie Moore. (See related article elsewhere in this issue of The Journal.) The discussion was briefer and more muted Tuesday night, but neither man showed much movement on the issue.

Moore, who has spent many years in the construction industry, reiterated his preference for a virtual building program, using computer software to design and display various facilities and floor plans.

His argument is twofold: first, that modern construction methods allow for fast response, making the need for an existing structure less important; and secondly, that the money spent on a spec building would be better spent on constructing infrastructure along the county’s interstate highway frontage.

Councilman Tom Allen agreed, saying that a spec building is generally a fifty thousand square foot building, which immediately limits the size of the business that can be accommodated, while improved infrastructure would likely attract more potential customers.

Councilman Francis Crowder pointed out that the estimated million dollar cost of the proposed building would build very little infrastructure. He also pointed out that state statistics indicate that of all the requests for information from potential builders last year, more than seventy per cent specifically asked about areas that already contained spec buildings.

But the question before the Council was whether to authorize the staff to proceed with studying three possible approaches: to build a spec building, to utilize the virtual building approach, or to focus on producing shovel ready sites for development.

After a thorough discussion, the Council voted unanimously to proceed with the study.

The Council also voted to purchase IPADS for those Council members wishing to use the devices to receive information rather than the current method of receiving hard copies of everything. Clerk to Council Linda Eddlemann and county administrator Rusty Burns would also receive the devices, at a cost of approximately one thousand dollars each. A Duke Energy grant which the County already has in hand would be used to pay for the devices.

The use of the devices would save approximately $7500 a year in paper and copying costs, according to Crowder.

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd objected “Do you remember the fuss these people made over my telephone,” she asked, gesturing towards the sparse audience? “Do you really think they are going to let me have an IPAD? I don’t want to catch all the flak I caught about that phone.”

Floyd has had a cell phone provided and paid for by the county for several years. At one time, Councilman Eddie Moore challenged her about it and she swore she would relinquish it the next day. That was almost four years ago, and she still has it.

She and Councilman Moore abstained from the vote, while the other five members voted to approve the purchase.