Beaufort News

Economic-development task force to suggest $50,000 study

The task force created to evaluate Beaufort County's economic development has settled on a consultant to help it do the job.

AngelouEconomics of Austin, Texas, has proposed a two-stage study of county job-creation efforts. The first phase would cost about $50,000 and could be finished in a few months, if approved by the County Council.

Task-force chairman Gary Horn, market president of Coastal Banking Co., said the group plans to recommend moving forward with the first stage.

"We're recommending phase one," Horn said. "And should the county want to go deeper and further, we would be prepared to take a look at phase two."

The first phase includes surveying employers and residents, comparing the county's strategy against a handful of outside economic-development groups, and analyzing the county's business climate, infrastructure and mix of industry.

A second phase, estimated to cost $97,500, would include further assessment of the county's competitiveness, along with exploration of industries and companies the area should target.

Angelos Angelou, the consulting firm's owner, said phase one would take about a month and a half to complete, and phase two might take more than three months. But the timeline, he said, would vary depending on which of the proposed actions are approved.

"What we gave them is a proposal with a menu of options," Angelou said.

County administrator Gary Kubic said last month that any consulting contract would be brought before County Council for approval.

The task force, composed of five local businessmen, was created amid debate over the County Council's proposed $2.5 million purchase of the Beaufort Commerce Park. The council voted May 9 to reject a purchase at that price.