The Jefferson Area Tea Party held its second official presentation of an ongoing series titled "The Pros and Cons of Economic Development in Albemarle County” Thursday evening.
Ken Boyd, a member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, spoke about how the lack of an economic development staff is hurting the county’s ability to attract new businesses.
“What we really wanted to do was have someone on staff who could inform us about the regulatory environment to attract businesses,” Boyd said. He said the county has lost three potential business because of a lack of competitive prices.
Boyd said the lack of reform is in part because of local government inertia.
“We went from an environment of people who were interested in economic development … to people who are more concerned about the environment [and] all the issues except economic vitality,” Boyd said.
Mike Basile, president of the Jefferson Area Tea Party, echoed Boyd's sentiments, saying he feels the County’s decision to raise taxes is not helping citizens or businesses.
Boyd also underscored the role of the University in spurring local economic development. He encouraged cooperation between county officials the the University to prevent the University from becoming the economic engine which runs the county.
The forum aimed to address the economic plight of Albemarle County's working class families — who attendees said are suffering from stagnant, low-wage jobs. Meeting organizers discussed ways to increase county transparency and more broadly disperse information about economic development to local residents as a way of increasing economic opportunity.
“The problem is we are only hearing one perspective from the county, which is why we are looking into the community,” Basile said.
The next economic development meeting will be held in November.
“We are going to continue having meetings until we find a resolution and increase the public understanding of the need for vibrant business in the county,” Basile said.