Randolph County Economic Development Authority discussed its members and officers during the monthly meeting on Jan. 27.

The board welcomed Jim Tripplet as the replacement for Debbie Meadows. State Rep. Bob Fincher selected Triplett for his financial background with the city of Carrollton upon Meadows' retirement.

All of the town representative appointees' terms will end on March 5. Jared Kirby represents the town of Wedowee, and Mary Ann Cleveland represents the town of Wadley. Both expressed they want to remain on the board and were selected for another term. However, Kim Benefield of Woodland and Billy Royston of Roanoke expressed they would like to come off the board. Their replacements will be announced at the next meeting in February.

Also in February, the board will select new officers. Current Chairman Bob Siverson of Wedowee has expressed that due to personal reasons he does not want to serve another term as chairman.

Review of director

The board voted to establish a committee review for Executive Director Bryant Whaley. Whaley served as interim director from August 2018 to January 2019, and then was hired full time in February. He will have completed one full year as the executive director at the end of the month.

Whaley said, "My biggest accomplishment has been the relationships I have made and stability that I have brought to this position over the last year. Many people don't realize that the former board was completely dissolved, and then the EDA board was created with new people, goals and bylaws. Transitioning from one board to the next was tough, when the current director leaves and someone else had to be hired. I will never forget when someone in Woodland told me I was the first economic director to ever come to a meeting. Yes, I am proud of the new retail we have in the area, but until we stop the outflux of our workforce going to Georgia, then my job will never be done."

Other business

The hotel feasibility study came back positive for the county. The study revealed that a 50-room establishment would be sustainable in our area.

"The trick now is finding investors willing to build it. We have a company willing to come here if we can find the financial backing," said Whaley.

Whaley discussed how he is working the Department of Commerce to showcase different industries, including Victory Game Clocks of Roanoke.

Whaley discussed that beginning in February, the third Wednesday of every month will be a Business Networking Lunch at the RCEDA office. Other counties do these types of lunches, and it is a way to share resources with each other. Feb. 19 will be the first BNL and pizza will be served.

The remodel of the building is almost complete, and people will soon be able to use the space for their businesses.

Bradley Bozeman will be the keynote speaker at the Business and Industry Luncheon on April 1 on the Wadley campus of Southern Union. Please contact Bryant Whaley for tickets.

In close, the RCEDA is committed to helping every community with the upcoming census. This is a make or break year for Alabama. Not only could Alabama lose a congressional seat, but also $1,600 per person of federal funding is on the line. If you have any questions about the census or would like to help, please contact the RCEDA office.

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