County commission agrees to funding for economic development agency

St. Joseph County’s board of commissioners pledged $140,000 to Southwest Michigan First, more than four months after the agency’s contract with the county expired.
Tuesday’s funding agreement ends a lengthy impasse during which county officials not only debated the merits of the economic-development benefits from Southwest Michigan First, but also at a time when they began intensifying their scrutiny on money being spent from what was once a $20 million delinquent-tax fund.
As a result, the agency continued working without a contract since the previous $222,000, one-year agreement expired Dec. 31. A number of county residents connected to St. Joseph County businesses – including a few Tuesday – addressed commissioners in support of the funding.
Ken Jones, representing the economic-development corporation, said $20,000 of the $140,000 will be dedicated to a Sturgis-based company that will, in the capacity of a consultant, help promote the image, branding and identity of the agency.
He said the EDC is in the midst of changing its name to St. Joseph County Edge.

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