Efforts to increase broadband availability and tourism in Pulaski County are a few of the things that will likely be scaled back, following the elimination of the Community Development Commission’s project coordinator position.
CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer presented CDC members Tuesday with a list of activities that he feels will have to be eliminated or cut significantly. He said he didn’t think he’d have enough time or funding to take part in a grant program to help bring broadband to rural areas. “As part of our engagement in this project, I am expected to scout potential sites in the targeted geographic area, where we might be able to approach property owners about putting satellites, putting those things on it,” Origer explained. “Plus, there is a cash match requirement.”
But CDC Member Jay Sullivan, who is also one of the county council members who voted to eliminate funding for Project Coordinator Krysten Hinkle’s position, felt the grant program should remain a priority. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t want to pursue that,” Sullivan said. “I think the internet, having access, there’s a lot of areas, especially in the south part of the county, that have restrictive access to the internet.”
“I absolutely agree,” Origer replied. “And that’s why this in on the document we presented to the council when we fought to reinstate Krysten’s position in the budget, and it wasn’t important enough then to have her position reinstated.”
Additionally, Origer said that while tourism marketing efforts will continue, he will not move forward with reviving the county’s tourism advisory committee. “That’s just one more meeting to have to coordinate,” he said. “I had been hoping to pull some of that conversation out of these board meetings and into a different one, but that was going to be Krysten’s baby.”
The CDC has been working with Purdue Extension to launch a Leadership Pulaski County class, but now, neither group will have enough staff to do it. “We have money available for that if the situation ever changes,” Origer noted, “but for now, buh-bye.”
Origer also said he’ll no longer work on various projects unrelated to economic development for the county council and commissioners, although he’ll continue serving as the county’s liaison for a potential courthouse renovation project. Similarly, he said he’ll no longer oversee the county’s website after January 1, other than the tourism and economic development pages. The Pulaski County Farmers’ Market will continue under the direction of its own board, but without the CDC’s involvement.