Douglas County commissioners review spending of $350,000 that would help economic development

Douglas County commissioners Wednesday reviewed a policy proposal that would determine how $350,000 will be distributed to help spur economic development.

Commissioners decided to wait until next week’s meeting to make a final decision on the economic development policy, though they said they were only looking for a few minor wording changes that would make the final policy more flexible. For example, they chose to change the words “high-skilled jobs” to “quality jobs” to ensure that many different types of jobs and companies could be considered for funding.

Commissioner Jim Flory also re-emphasized the group’s commitment to the biosciences by adding language that specifically denoted that as an area to be considered for funding.

The development fund, which gets its money through a recent property tax increase, would distribute $350,000 to projects located within Douglas County. Financing the economic development fund with property taxes was originally a controversial subject among commissioners and Douglas County residents, but commissioners were in agreement Wednesday about how to distribute the money now that the development fund has been created and passed.

Of the $350,000, $30,000 will be used to create a revolving loan fund, and another $20,000 would be used to create job training and workforce development opportunities in Douglas County. The remaining $300,000 would act as general funding for projects that meet policy requirements. Commissioners said these amounts would be flexible.

The policy, which intentionally uses vague wording in order to retain flexibility, would encourage existing industry to expand and assist new business start-ups and recruit new companies from out-of-state and internationally. It would also encourage high technology and research-based businesses that add to the quality of life in Douglas County.

The commissioners expect to pass the policy at their Feb. 23 meeting without discussion.