The future of the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. will be discussed at two meetings later this week.
The status of the KCEDC is an agenda item for the County Board’s Finance and Public Property Committee when it meets at 8 a.m. Thursday at the County Administration Center, 810 Lincoln St., Kewaunee. And the KCEDC board will hold the latest in a series of strategic planning sessions Friday morning.
The private-public economic development partnership has been in a state of flux since the County Board reduced its contribution to KCEDC from $30,000 in 2017 to $18,000 this year. Longtime executive director Jennifer Brown submitted her resignation a few weeks later.
Minutes of a special KCEDC board meeting on Jan. 4, which were not released until the February County Board meeting, indicate the organization’s executive committee believed KCEDC should shut down by the end of January in light of its recent setbacks.
Board President Lynie Vincent is quoted as saying the committee didn’t want to close, but an analysis showed the organization had only enough funding to operate another six to nine months.
The minutes show County Board Chairman Robert Weidner, who attended the meeting, said he did not believe the County Board had any interest in taking over economic development efforts from the KDEDC.
Board members expressed concerns, the minutes show, over the mixed message that the county is receiving $500,000 a year for the next 10 years from Dominion, owner of the closed Kewaunee Power Station, with the first two years recommended for economic development efforts, but the County Board voted to reduce its investment in KCEDC anyway.
The discussion then turned to reviewing KCEDC’s various programs with an eye toward figuring out how to maintain the group’s most essential tasks under a reorganization.
“We’re going through a visioning process to evaluate how we’re going to operate and what we can do that’s realistic within the limited budget that we have,” Kim Larson of the KCEDC board told the County Board at its February meeting. “Over the last month and a half we’ve had three meetings of more than two hours each.”
Brown stayed on the job through early February to help with the transition, but the KCEDC office in Casco was to close Feb. 16, Hansen said.
“We’re trying to work with the county, and we appreciate the time that many members of the county have joined us in conversation,” she told supervisors. “Time is of the essence. We need help, we need commitment, we need hope.”
By the third KDEDC visioning session on Feb. 8, the minutes indicate the group was moving toward finding an independent outside consultant to lead the strategic planning process.
Meanwhile, a “Kewaunee County Economic Development Roundtable” has been working along a parallel course and met Feb. 20 for a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) discussion of the county. Future meetings of that new committee are on hold until it can work together with KCEDC, Wediner said during a Feb. 27 committee meeting.