All cities rejoin Tulare County EDC

Exeter is among four more cities to rejoin the economic development corporation citing a new direction and marked improvements in the organization

EXETER – Exeter was among the last cities to rejoin the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation. And with every incorporated city now on board, momentum is building.

President and CEO of the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Nathan Ahle, said having the support of the local public sector is key to the organization’s success.

“We’ve been very fortunate…in Tulare County in the past six months, with plenty of economic activity and interest in what our area has to offer,” Ahle said. “This will only ensure we can deliver the best service possible to companies seeking to relocate here or existing firms looking to expand.”

The Exeter City Council made the jump back in at their Sept. 28 meeting. City manager Adam Ennis said there were myriad reasons why they left in the first place a couple of years ago. A lot of issues were about communications; equitable cost of membership between private and public membership; board positions where one member would represent all the small cities; some analysis that was delayed – but Ennis said that Ahle has brought a new direction.

“In a relatively short period of time, they have done quite a few things to try to address some of the issues back when the cities were looking at not being in the EDC,” Ennis said. “So with that being considered, I thought we should bring it back to the council to see if the council wanted to reinstate membership.”

Council member Frankie Alves, who was on the council when they decided to leave the EDC, said it may have been a “kick in the pants” to the EDC when small cities began leaving all at once.

Exeter mayor Barbra Sally asked whether reinitiating payments to the EDC would have a negative impact on the budget. The city pays only $2,500 a year for their membership, but Ennis thinks the benefits could out weight the costs.

In recent year the city has been trying to find ways to improve their industrial economic development.

“You know, we’ve talked about them trying to get more industrial and things like that here in the city. And this could be a thing that could help us in that endeavor as we’re trying to put more time and effort toward development,” Ennis said.

That was enough for the city council to make the leap. They voted in a unanimous 5-0 decision to rejoin, and then appointed councilman Justin Mills to represent the city on the EDC board.

Lindsay, Farmersville and Porterville are also rejoining the EDC after taking a relatively brief hiatus. They experienced some of the same treatment that drove Exeter away. And for the same improvements, the cities decided to come back.

According to the EDC adding all four cities back into the fold is significant as it marks the first time in over a year that all eight incorporated cities in Tulare County are investing in the organization. Along with the county of Tulare, every public-sector jurisdiction is now participating in the EDC.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay, and Porterville back to the EDC,” said EDC board chair Scott Harness. “Our board of directors and our staff are committed to refocusing the EDC’s efforts on the core of our mission of bringing jobs to Tulare County, and we appreciate the elected bodies in these communities for recognizing our new focus. The support of our public-sector partners is not something we take for granted, and we’re doing everything we can to prove ourselves as a worthwhile investment in the economic future of our area.”

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