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County approves Carolinas Gateway Partnership exit plan

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NASHVILLE — Nash County announced Monday it was moving ahead with hiring an economic developer and approved terms related to its Oct. 1 withdrawal from the Carolinas Gateway Partnership.

County commissioners last spring voted to leave the public-private economic development partnership that also includes the city of Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County. The board said at the time it wanted Nash County to restore its own economic development office that it once had. Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County opted to continue in the partnership.

After a closed session Monday, board Chairman Robbie Davis announced that the county has received 60 applications so far for an economic developer. He said he and the staff would winnow the list down to 10 candidates for the commissioners to interview.

The county already has a retail developer. The economic developer will primarily work on recruiting and retaining industrial prospects.

Commissioners also voted on a “memorandum of terms” related to the county’s withdrawal from the regional group. Davis said the Carolinas Gateway Partnership had approved the same memorandum.

Under the memo’s terms, the Carolinas Gateway Partnership will continue to work on Nash County projects prior to Oct. 1 “in the normal course of business.”

Nash appointees to the partnership’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee will continue to serve on them until Sept. 30, but will then resign effective Sept. 30 and have no further vote or involvement in the group.

After Sept. 30, the board voted, “Each of Nash and the Partnership shall cooperate and collaborate by encouraging and promoting the success of the other for the benefit of all of Nash County and the Twin Counties of Nash and Edgecombe.”

Examples cited include participation by Nash “in tax and other incentives for economic development projects” within Rocky Mount on the Nash County side and “encouragement by the Partnership of the expansion of utilities services benefiting economic development projects” outside Rocky Mount.

The memorandum also promises that “each of Nash and the Partnership shall for their mutual benefit seek to minimize and avoid confusion as to areas of focus in dealings with the N.C. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and other governmental and economic development agencies.”

Nash County also agreed to let the Carolinas Gateway Partnership continue to use its present offices, owned by Nash County, on a rent-free basis through Dec. 31, 2019.