Rowan EDC will undergo name change, alter board requirements with updates to bylaws

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 18, 2021

SALISBURY — For the first time in over a decade, the Rowan Economic Development Commission is updating its organizational bylaws, which involves a slight name change and could allow people who live elsewhere to serve on the board of directors.

Formed in 1984, the Rowan EDC serves to help existing businesses expand and stimulate new business growth in Rowan County. Rowan EDC President Rod Crider said the organization’s rules were in need of some revisions since the last time any update was made was more than 10 years ago — long before he took the helm in 2017.

“We had to make some changes reflecting how the world has evolved since 2009,” Crider said.

Many of the changes, ranging from simple syntax shifts to more material moves, were made to reflect the organization’s recent transition to a private-public partnership model. After being solely funded by government entities for several decades, the Rowan EDC is now also supported by private businesses. The Rowan EDC raised more than $1 million from private partners during its recent “Forward Rowan” campaign.

The bylaw changes were approved by the Rowan EDC’s board of directors in February, but still have to be adopted by the county’s 10 municipalities. Most municipalities have already approved the changes and the remaining governments will likely do so soon, Crider said.

Once the proposed changes are approved and implemented, the organization’s name will officially be changed to the Rowan Economic Development Council. An organization’s name, Crider said, can be very important in the economic attraction and expansion industry.

“I think (Rowan Economic Development Council) better reflects the partnership that we’re trying to create between the public and private sectors,” Crider said. “A commission is typically a public-sector term and a council would be one that I think reflects that partnership of both, and it’s consistent with what a lot of economic development organizations call themselves.”

The Rowan EDC also underwent a name change and rebranding in 2017 when it ditched its “Rowan Works” title.

Crider said most people simply refer to the organization as the Rowan EDC anyway, so he views the renaming as only a minor tweak.

In addition to the name change, the Rowan EDC will no longer require members of its board of directors to live within the confines of Rowan County. The new bylaw would state that it would be desirable for board members to live or work in Rowan County.

“We have a number of people that are interested that work in the county, but don’t live here,” Crider said. “We figure that because they spend a majority of their day here and are active in every other way, it would be nice to give them an opportunity to serve on our board if they wished, that it shouldn’t be based on geography of where they live, but on their activity in moving Rowan forward.”

Crider said the Rowan EDC has enough “checks and balances” to ensure a board member who lives in another county would have adequate investment in Rowan.

The Rowan EDC’s bylaws will also be changed to allow for the addition of up to five additional board members. The board is currently composed of 10 individuals, seven of whom are appointed by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, two appointed by the Salisbury City Council and one by the other towns in the county. The chairperson of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce also serves as an ex-officio member.

Similar to the name change, the move to expand the board is largely to include more private sector representatives.

“We thought that in order to move toward a public-private partnership model, we needed to have some spots for interested people from the private sector that we could nominate to serve on the board,” Crider said.

The five additional board members would be appointed by the board of directors rather than municipalities.

Other changes involving the board of directors include adjusting the time of elections for officer positions, implementing term limits on chairperson and chairperson-elect and giving ex-officio board members voting privileges. Although Crider has been referred to as the organization’s president for some time, the new bylaws make the title official.

There’s also a new section requiring board members to sign statements of confidentiality and disclosure of conflict of interest. The EDC has required those practices anyway, Crider said, but now it is codified.

Once approved, the Rowan EDC hopes to implement the changes before its new fiscal year starts on July 1.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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