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City of York considers economic panel

City and business leaders in York are planning to ramp up their efforts to promote economic development through the formation of a new panel that would aim to attract new business.

The proposed city of York Economic Development board - a partnership between the city, the Greater York Chamber of Commerce and several other community sectors - would be patterned after similar efforts in Clover and Rock Hill, officials said.

Both the chamber and the city have existing economic development panels. But Paul Boger, executive director of the chamber, said leaders from both groups realized they need to do more.

"We realized we had to have more city participation to make this thing happen," Boger said, referring to the chamber's committee. "The city has the resources to do things; the chamber does not."

Boger said the chamber board of directors Tuesday agreed to support the plan to create a city economic development board.

York Mayor Eddie Lee said the proposed board would be a partnership between the city and the chamber, with representatives from education, business and banking.

The York City Council's economic development committee will continue to function, Lee said. However, he said, "this is broader, and I think it includes all of the players who are involved in economic development in York."

Clover formed a similar panel several years ago, and has reaped some success, said Clover Mayor Donnie Grice.

The Clover panel, along with York County Economic Development, were involved in recruiting PermaShrink, which is constructing a new manufacturing plant at the Westgate Industrial Park in Clover.

"Had we not had this board together, and some of the members that were on it, PermaShrink might have ended up at another location," Grice said. "We've got feelers out everywhere, trying to bring economic development to Clover."

Grice said the Clover panel has been "a huge success. We've put a lot of positive ideas on the table. We've moved forward with a lot of those. We've still got a long way to go, but it is a very active board, and we're going to make some things happen."

Boger said smaller communities such as York and Clover are limited in terms of how many resources they can dedicate to economic development.

"But ... maybe there are some things that could be done that wouldn't necessarily cost a lot of money," he said.

One example, Boger said, is identifying properties in York that could be prime locations for economic development and promoting those. He said the city needs a panel with good representations "so when it comes time to do something, we could actually be representing the city in its entirety."

Lee said city representatives would include himself, City Manager Charles Helms, Councilman Harmon Merritt, who chairs the city economic development committee, and another council member, to be named by the council. It also would include a representative from the chamber, education, business and banking.

Lee said City Attorney Bill Brice is working to draft a document that would establish the committee. He said the York City Council likely will discuss the issue again at its February meeting.

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