Warren County moved forward Tuesday toward making a new government department devoted to economic development.
The Board of Supervisors voted at its regular meeting in favor of a motion to approve the creation of the Warren County Office of Economic Development. Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers, Vice Chairman Archie A. Fox and supervisors Tony F. Carter, Walter J. Mabe and Delores R. Oates voted on the motion.
The motion also authorizes County Administrator Edwin Daley to hire a director of economic development and an administrative assistant; provide information so supervisors can add the positions to the county compensation and classification system; and prepare budget transfers to the new department for board approval.
The motion also calls for supervisors and county staff to investigate the feasibility of a joint Front Royal-Warren County Office of Economic Development.
The county already serves as the EDA’s fiscal agent, handles much of its finances and covers the cost of the authority’s operations.
Supervisors discussed the formation of a county department at their Sept. 14 work session. Town and county officials discussed the matter at a liaison committee meeting on Sept. 16 and broached the idea of a joint office for economic development. Front Royal has created an independent economic development authority with Town Manager Steven Hicks as its director. The Town Council has yet to appoint members to the Front Royal EDA.
Meanwhile, the Front Royal-Warren County EDA is in the process of searching for an executive director and an administrative assistant. Executive Director Douglas Parsons leaves the EDA in October to take a similar position within the Fauquier County government. Gretchen Henderson left her administrative assistant position for a job with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission headquartered in Front Royal.
The Front Royal-Warren County EDA would continue operating as a legal entity in accordance with Virginia statutes. The Warren County Office of Economic Development would support the EDA but function independent of it. The office would be responsible for retaining and attracting businesses in and to Front Royal and Warren County.
An ad hoc committee of the EDA Board of Directors Executive Committee met on Wednesday and spent much of that time looking through applications for the administrative position. The committee is also in the process of searching for an interim and a permanent executive director. Board Chairman Jeff Browne said the committee spent most of the time in closed session discussing the many applications received. The committee then will choose which applicants to interview. The full board will forward its recommendations to the county administration, which also makes the hiring decisions for the new office.
The county will fund the new office with money appropriated for economic development in the current budget. A joint office would include funds from the town and the county.