County economic committee chooses chairman

Staff writer

The county economic development committee spent much of its first meeting Tuesday night trying to figure out what the group’s mission will be.

Chris Hernandez, Marion, financial adviser for Edward Jones, was selected to chair the committee. Jim Hefley, Hillsboro, who works in farming, real estate, and investments, was selected co-chair.

The group also chose a mission statement: “Marion County will be a unified, aggressive economic competitor providing opportunities for existing and new commercial, industrial, and residential development resulting in prosperity for all.”

Hernandez’s initial remarks were about remaining committed to the group and to each other throughout the process. Not everyone will agree on everything, Hernandez said.

“We’re all doing this because we all believe in a cause bigger than ourselves,” he said.

Jobs in Marion County are shrinking, he said, and the committee needs to get things moving the other way.

Craig Dodd, Hillsboro, owner of Chisholm Trail Outfitters, wondered what the committee’s relationship to county commissioners would be.

Hernandez said commissioners want the committee to bring them ideas.

Hernandez said the county and its towns need to consolidate resources and push in the same direction so economic development can gain momentum.

Members rehashed topics from other meetings as they struggled to craft a forward-focused vision.

Russell Groves, Hillsboro, owner of a real estate investment and development business, said he’s heard people talk about projections for continued loss of county residents and jobs, and they believe the projections will happen anyway.

“If we do nothing, that’s what will happen,” Hernandez said.

Last modified Aug. 11, 2016