Nearly a year ago, the Bay County Economic Development Alliance wished for greener pastures. Cities threatened to pull funding for the organization and a major business collapsed, which left the county on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to Neal Wade, Director of the EDA, he says they've come a long way since then. People had lost trust in the organization and now they're in the process of regaining it.
"You had to restore confidence. If we were going to be successful, we had to restore confidence but then we had to deliver it and that's what we have worked on doing. It's making sure that if we said we we're going to perform this way, we do that and we've been very transparent." Wade says.
With Wade at the wheel of the organization, things have changed. Wade says when he took the job back in January, adjustments had to be made, starting with the policies and procedures within his office. The organization holds monthly investor meeting; projects and financial statements are laid on the table and with the Red Pine crisis, the organization had to evaluate the way incentives were awarded.
Wade says the EDA now requires businesses to create and maintain jobs before getting the full incentives. Last year, cities across the county took a hard look at the return on their investments.
But Callway Mayor Thomas Abbott says there's renewed faith in the organization. "The EDA is here to help and we need to do our part. I had a big meeting with Neal Wade this past week and we worked out the logistics."
"I have a basic belief that we have to relate to each of our city and county partners individually." Wade says.
This week, Abbott and Wade discussed a plan to fill the void left by Kmart in the Callaway Plaza; they hope to bring in a business that could revitalize the area.