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PDA primed for new year with high hopes and aspirations

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County Commissioners raise budget to 1/10 of a mil

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With a new executive director in place and the direction of the Putnam Development Authority (PDA) starting to come into focus, 2022 is shaping up to be a great year for economic development in Putnam County.

Financially, the PDA is a little ahead of the curve from the end of the 2020 fiscal year thanks to an increase in the budget from Putnam County from $95,000 to 1/10 of a mil or about $148,000 based on the 2021 mil rate of $1.48 million.

In the final minutes of the last county budget meeting before the adoption of the new budget, county commissioner Bill Sharp asked for a $53,000 increase for the PDA to bring the 2021 level to the 1/10 mil parameters. The votes were in place and passed.

“Commissioner Sharp brought this increase up in passing in the final moments and the votes were there,” said BOC Chairman Billy Webster. “We passed it and it will help the PDA.”

PDA executive director Matt Poyner views the new year with a new budget as an opportunity to do good things in 2022.

“The commission gave us a little more money than we had initially been told,” said Poyner. “We were very pleased.”

With a number of initiatives and projects on the drawing board, Poyner said the additional money will be utilized for marketing, special fees and services needed along the way.

“Jim Stone of Tytan Productions came and talked to us about rebranding the authority in Putnam County,” Poyner said. “It really got into what we need to do. I was blown away. It really opened my eyes to social media platforms and how we could get our word out to the community.

“The way people are generating information about their communities is through social media platforms. It is truly fascinating what we can do to provide content to Putnam County. I am looking forward to getting more information and seeing where the next steps may be.”

A large part of expanding horizons in the county and in other economic development interested areas will be from the PDA website and as Poyner said,

”Keeping things fresh.”

“We are almost starting from scratch with this branding exercise,” explained Poyner. “Not a lot has been done and for us, it is kind of starting from “square one.”

PDA chairman Walt Rocker has seen the struggles of the PDA over the past couple of years and he is especially excited about finally seeing things heading in the right direction.

“Every organization has to go through an internal reflection. I don’t remember the last time this was done with us,” Rocker said. “Our Board agreed to go ahead and do it and strategically decide what we are trying to do for Putnam County and how we are going to do it. I’m frankly excited to have a full time director completely engaged and tremendously helpful.”

Prior to COVID-19, the PDA was undertaking some initiatives but the pandemic put up a stop that has been difficult to get going again.

“We started this process before COVID came into play and everything we thought was on the radar wasn’t the norm anymore,” Rocker explained. “We have to get the county more invested from an industry standpoint. We have to decide what jobs we want to attract. We have to make sure our goals are aligned with the jobs we solicit.

“I would like to see the PDA become more relevant on what is going on from an economic standpoint. We will get focused on the target industries and the targeted employees as we are looking at other initiatives to promote the authority.”

Starting from scratch can be a daunting task but Poyner is confident it can be accomplished if the correct measures are taken to promote viable sustainability within the PDA.

“The question becomes who do we want to be? We have to be very strategic in how we use our resources,” Poyner said. “First off, we have to figure out exactly who we want to be; technology, industrial, distribution. What is it going to be? At that point, then we can start looking at how we can market that with the resources we have.

“It is not an easy process to undertake. It is going to be involved and will take time. Everything will take some time to see some results.”