DOBSON — Economic development efforts are moving slowly this year, but they are moving, Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, told the county’s board of commissioners Monday night.
During an update on work his entity is doing this year, Tucker said things have been “pretty slow from an activity level.”
Tucker said that while things are a bit slower this year, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.
“I went back and crunched the numbers, and there are a few things happening,” he said.
Recording contacts that he considers “good inquiries” about the county, Tucker said that by this time last year, there had been 24 inquiries, compared to 22 this year.
“It’s not been much slower than last year, although sometimes we may think it’s slower,” he said.
Client visits are also down slightly this year, with nine visits so far this year compared to 11 visits by this time in 2011.
“We’re just a little bit behind, but I can say that although the numbers don’t seem that much different, the potential activities involved with the projects is very different,” he said, choosing not to elaborate further.
Tucker told the board that his department has “a lot of irons in the fire.”
“We’re currently working on five potential new companies locating in the area, and five potential expansions of existing businesses,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean jobs are just around the corner, he cautioned.
“I wish I could tell you that we’re close on one of them, but it seems like the economy is making them hold off a little bit,” he said. “I’m hoping to close on one or two of them by the end of the year, but it’s taking a bit longer than we would like.”
Tucker said marketing efforts haven’t slowed down, telling the board that the economic development arm of the county is in the process of a new website design.
“It’s about time,” he said. “Our current website is about seven years old.”
His office also is taking marketing trips to meet with corporate real estate executives, Tucker said, but so far those efforts have yet to pay off.
“A lot of people are looking, but not doing much right now,” he said, noting that he hopes to see a little more movement in the future.
“There are some bigger companies that are active, but they’re looking at larger, more metropolitan areas,” he said. “Generally, when those areas start getting more projects, we begin to see a little more activity.”
Asked by the board about the Elkin Pittsburgh Glass Works project, Tucker said there have been some holdups, but things are now moving forward.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that the project was slowed down while finding a location for the power substation,” he said. “But they can’t operate without the type of power they need.”
Engineering efforts also slowed the project, Tucker added.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.