published Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

South Pittsburg rejoins Marion County partnership

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — South Pittsburg is once again a member of the Marion County Partnership for Economic Development after a two-year absence.

Last week, the South Pittsburg City Commission voted unanimously to pay the annual member fee of $5,000 so the city can rejoin the organization.

Mayor Jane Dawkins said she couldn't give the board enough reasons why the city should be a member of the partnership.

"It's something that's been kind of rejuvenated and is doing some very positive things," she said. "Whether we've been a member or not, they've been including South Pittsburg on some of these things."

David Abbott, acting chairman of the Marion County Partnership, said the group is crucial to the county's growth and industrial recruitment.

"It is an avenue for the county to have some funding to help with an industry wanting to locate [here]," he said. "We can fund that, without having to go through a huge dilemma of trying to get state funds."

The Partnership's funds can be used for things like road infrastructure or matching grant money, officials said, and it includes most area banks, individuals, and other organizations involved with the county's economic development.

"We work as a county, instead of just as individual cities," Abbott said. "Everyone has a vote to make sure where we want to spend the funds."

Former South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian prompted the city's withdrawal from the Partnership in 2010, calling the organization nothing more than former County Mayor Howell Moss' "slush fund."

Abbott said there is no "payout" to any individual who serves on the partnership's board of directors.

"All of the funds stay together," he said. "[Members of the board] are strictly volunteer. No one is paid. All of the funds stay and are voted on to spread throughout the county."

One new technology the partnership is examining is a "fly over," which can map a potential industrial site's terrain within two feet without requiring more costly surveying work, officials said.

Now that South Pittsburg has rejoined the partnership, only Orme, Monteagle, Whitwell and Powells Crossroads remain as county municipalities that are not members of the organization.

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