The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors made two appointments to the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority during Monday’s regular meeting.
The board chose GoBox president Rob Graham as LCIDA’s District 2 representative while retired businessman Kyle McConnell was appointed as an at-large selection.
Graham was the only candidate for the District 2 position while the board chose McConnell over former Lowndes County Administrator Ralph Billingsley.
Both Graham and McConnell were chosen unanimously after supervisors voted 3-2 against the appointment of Billingsley.
Graham replaces Frank Lockhart, whose term expires Dec. 31, while McConnell replaces Greg Rader, whose term expired Nov. 30. Board members serve four-year terms.
LCIDA is responsible for land purchases for industrial expansion, maintenance and infrastructure building primarily at the Lowndes County Industrial Park near the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. It receives annual funding from the county just like other departments. The county is LCIDA’s primary funding source, and it is also responsible for all of LCIDA’s debts.
LCIDA is governed by a seven-member board — a representative of each county district and two at-large members. All members are appointed by the supervisors.
Graham, whose waste removal company has been in operation near the Lowndes County Industrial Park since 2005, said he’s excited to be a part of LCIDA’s leadership team.
“I know how important the (LCIDA) is to economic development in the area,” Graham said. “I think my financial and business background will allow me to bring something to the table. I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the industries. We do a lot of hauling into and out of the steel mill and with PACCAR, too, so I’m looking forward to working with industry on behalf of the county.”
McConnell said the timing of the opening on the board was his motivation in seeking the position.
“I retired in early October, so I have more time on my hands than I’ve ever had,” said McConnell, who operated McConnell Brothers Moving and Storage for 40 years. “When someone mentioned there was going to be an open position on the board, it seemed like a good time to step in. I think my 40 years experience will be something that will be a benefit to the board.”
Tuesday’s appointment comes at a time when the supervisors and the Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins have clashed on how LCIDA should be funded.
Higgins advocates that the county appropriate $750,000 each year while some supervisors, including board president Trip Hairston, favor funding LCIDA on an “as-needed” basis.
Hairston said that dispute had no bearing on the board’s choices for the board positions Tuesday.
“I don’t think it even came up,” Hairston said. “I don’t believe our discussions over the funding is nearly as big a deal as some people are making it out to be. It’s just a difference in opinion, and I think we’ll be able to settle this and go on about our business.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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