NORTH PORT — The future of the city’s stalled economic-development advisory board is up for grabs Wednesday, as North Port city commissioners plan to workshop about whether to keep the group operating as it has for the last seven years.
Three city commissioners voted in December to suspend any activity for the Business and Economic Development Advisory Board, known as BEDAB, following Mayor Linda Yates’ assertion that the board should be made up of North Port citizens, not members of the business community and political leaders from outside of the city. The board also includes those in local and college-level educational institutes. Yates maintained that stance Tuesday, saying North Port citizens should be focusing on North Port, not leaning on the expertise of those from other locales. Yates also thinks that many of the current BEDAB members, as elected officials serving in other capacities, could violate the Government in the Sunshine Law by meeting to discuss North Port business. Yates also hopes city Economic Development Director Allan Lane and his staff can take a more proactive role in the effort, helping to guide whatever the makeup of the board turns out to be. “We need a different approach, because we can’t operate like the (North Port Area Chamber of Commerce) — we’re not a private entity,” she said. “We need to rely on our professional staff to present these ideas.” Commissioner Jim Blucher, who also sits on the BEDAB, thinks it’s a done deal, and the board, as it now sits, will be dissolved when commissioners do finally vote on the matter. Commissioners don’t vote at workshops. Blucher said “the three” — Yates and Commissioners Cheryl Cook and Rhonda DiFranco — are adamant about seeing the BEDAB disbanded, despite the many inroads the board has made with making contacts throughout the state.
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