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Rowan Jobs Initiative supporters blast commissioners

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
Supporters of Rowan Jobs Initiative lambasted county commissioners Monday night, accusing them of smearing the organization and Mike Miller, a former director.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners agreed at the June 3 meeting to pull all county funding ó $75,000 ó from the agency for the coming year. Chairman Arnold Chamberlain cited his concerns about RJI contracting with Miller Davis for marketing, while the firm’s owner and president, Mike Miller, was on the board of directors.
Miller called the board’s accusations alarming and disappointing. He cited his donation of time and effort to assist RJI and other other organizations.
He criticized the board’s style and manner, saying commissioners should be trying to encourage and solicit cooperation instead of impugning the integrity of those trying to help.
Miller Davis received $117,000 from RJI since 2004. Miller said 80 percent of the money was pass through to pay for advertisements in magazines and other publications.
Paul Fisher, chairman of the board of F&M Bank, told commissioners they owe Miller and RJI an apology.
He stressed the work of the organization and the supporters in the business community to attract new business and industry. Fisher said RJI contracted with Miller Davis because the company could do the best job at the best price.
“When you came down on Miller Davis, you came down on the rest of us,” said Fisher.
He also praised Rowan Magazine, a publication of Miller Davis, saying it best illustrates the community and quality of life.
Brian Miller, an executive with Citizens South Bank, charged that the real motivation of commissioners was political ó an attempt to discredit a political opponent.
Miller, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully in the May 6 primary.
Jake Alexander, a local developer, charged that commissioners have maligned a public servant .
Dyke Messinger, a former chairman of the board of RJI, and president of Power Curbers, questioned whether commissioners want to partner with the private sector to bring jobs to the county.
“If you do, let’s sit down and talk about it,” said Messinger. He ticked off a list of good things about the county, stressing that RJI is all about selling the county to site selection consultants, the people who can bring industry and businesses.
Commissioners made no direct response, but shortly afterwards adopted the budget which pulled the $75,000 from RJI. The board agreed on June 3 to transfer $50,000 to the Rowan-Salisbury Economic Development Commission for marketing. The remaining $25,000 will go to the Rowan Rescue Squad.
While not naming RJI, Chamberlain said no one, including elected officials, is indispensable.
“We’re talking about an attitude of entitlement … this attitude of entitlement must stop,” said Chamberlain, citing various groups, including funding partners.
And Chamberlain appeared to issue a challenge to the RJI supporters. “Do it with your vote, not your mouth.”

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