Dillon County Public-Private Partnership Board

To The Editor:
I watched a recent County Council meeting where Mike Tyler, Chairman of the Dillon County Public-Private Partnership for Economic Development, (DCPPP), made a presentation asking the county for $50,000.00 funding. This immediately had my attention for several reasons:
1) Everything was backwards. Mr. Tyler should have been presenting the county a check for $50,000.00 instead of asking the county for the money. The DCPPP was organized to raise money for the county. It is recognized as an IRS 501(c)3 charitable organization under the Internal Revenue Code and operated exclusively for exempt purposes to raise money for county economic development. The 501(c)3 status allows it to grant contributing donors tax exempt status for their donation per IRS Code section 170. It can not be operated for the benefit of private interest and no part of the organizations net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.
2) The Dillon County Development Association DBA Dillon County Public Private Partnership for Economic Development has been in operation for almost ten (10) years with little accountability or oversight. Mr. Tyler stated they have not been updating county council on their activity as required, and they have yet to accomplish anything they “could credit their name to.”
I completely differ with his assessment because I believe they have accomplished something extraordinary and don’t even realize it because they don’t understand their role. They unanimously defined an action plan outlining six (6) initiatives the county needed to do to start being successful in economic development and proposed it during a planning retreat on March 29, 2011. This has never been done in Dillon County. A written action plan defining what needed to be done. Listed below are their initiatives:
Action Plan Initiatives
(not in priority order)
1. Build a Spec. Building in the Tri County Industrial Park: The desire for shorter startup timetables has made spec. buildings very attractive to prospects. Spec. buildings are often the lure to get a prospect to include your county in their site visit. (Accomplished)
2. Carolina Mega Site: Keep property under control by extending the option. When the property option is extended add road, curb, gutter, lighting, signage and improvements. (Accomplished)
3. Invest in Existing Buildings: A) Heritage Sportswear building in Lake View: maintain and repair the building and equipment as well as update certification. B) Mohawk Industries building in Dillon: purchase and upgrade the facility. (Accomplished)
4. Marketing and Website Enhancements: Add GIS and critical maps to the Dillon website and presentations including transportation, population, training centers, target industry proximity requirements, etc. (Accomplished)
5. Establish a 501(c)3: This common economic development structure provides an additional funding source for Dillon’s economic development growth. (Accomplished)
6. Workforce Development: Partnership members will meet with industry, education and workforce development leaders to identify current programs, challenges, persuasive evidence of success and competitive rankings in education and workforce preparedness. (Accomplished)
Each of these six (6) objectives were achieved. Some by the DCPPP and some by outside partners. Outstanding job! This is not failure. Wyman -Gordon and others are here as a result. That is measured success. The DCPPP must delegate authority to others better suited for the task and stop thinking you failed because the DCPPP didn’t accomplish it yourselves. You will require outside partners to accomplish great things.
3) It is my sincere belief that Mr. Tyler needs to meet with the county administration and together they better understand the role of the DCPPP as defined in the originating ordinance, its intent, structure, purpose, bylaws, and its relationship with the county council to be more successful. Mr. Tyler as chairman has a fiduciary responsibility to fully understand everything possible about the DCPPP and make sure all the representatives serving on the board do as well. This will go a long way into defining future successes. Asking the county for money is opposite of the intended purpose and could sour the council and citizens on the DCPPP’s future.
4) The three (3) councilmen who tried to vote in favor of giving the DCPPP the $50,000.00 also have no idea of its structure, purpose, relationship, or duty to the county council. Neither did any of the county administration question Mr. Tyler’s request during the meeting. That is scary and tells me that each of the councilmen’s representatives on the DCPPP isn’t doing their job of communicating with their sponsor or they are giving wrong advice or both.
5) The DCPPP is currently operating as two separate groups in conflict with the founding ordinance and laws. There is not a separate “private side” or “public side” of the DCPPP as initially organized and established. It is a partnership of both public and private representatives together with one tax exempt status and one purpose. The two separated groups are operating outside the rules and regulations of the 501(c)3 tax exempt status approved by the Internal Revenue Service and risk possible penalties and elimination of its tax-exempt status. The Partnership was structured to have eight (8) voting public representatives, one representing each of the seven County Councilman and one representing the County delegation and five (5) voting private representatives representing five corporate partners. CSX Railroad, SC Electric & Gas, Duke Energy, Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, and Marlboro Electric Cooperative.
The Dillon County Public- Private Partnership for Economic Development was introduced to Dillon County over ten (10) years ago in 2009 for a completely opposite purpose of its Chairman having to come ask the council for money Allow me to share some background that led to the formation of the DCPPP
Early to late 2000s, Dillon County had an Economic Development Board and a part- time Economic Development Director from Darlington with a small operating budget…very small budget. The county could not afford anything else The Board met once a month and had a lunch. The part-time Economic Development Director talked to existing industries, but did little else in regards to going out and recruiting industry. In 2007 Mr. Charlie Vance, Chairman of the Dillon Economic Development Board, wanted to change the economic development situation in Dillon County. Mr. Vance laid out the current economic situation and his desire to form a Public- Private Economic Development Partnership similar to all the other counties in the region that were having success in economic development. The concept was researched for many months by meeting with many other counties that were already operating a Public-Private Partnership. The smallest group, in one of the poorest counties, were bringing in over $180,000 per year in their economic partnership. Mr. Vance decided to move forward and a detailed plan and ordinance was written. After three county readings, the ordinance was approved in 2010, and the DCPPP started operations.
Dillon County is in far better shape today than it was in 2010 when the DCPPP was established. Far better, but economic development is measured by what has been done for us lately. Clay Young is one of the best Economic Development Directors in the state. Dillon County is very fortunate to have him. He is well respected by industry and South Carolina Commerce. The job of the DCPPP is to get Clay the tools and budget he requires. We expect, demand, great things from the DCPPP. Learn to accept assistance from partners that are trying to help you and delegate your task better. Set goals and put standards into place to measure them. You have to get it together or you will become irrelevant very fast.
Many of us look forward to your first presentation of a $50,000 check to the county. That will be a major accomplishment you can credit your name to!
Bo McInnis
4756 Parrish Mill Road
Clio, SC 29525