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Small Business committee switches officers, but not gears 2014

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By Brian Slattery

Brunswick County’s Small Business Advisory Committee will shuffle organizers, but the same group will still promote ideas for improving the county’s business climate.

New SBAC officers for 2014 were elected at the Dec. 10 meeting.

The new chairman is Steve Candler, executive vice president and director of governmental affairs at Brunswick County Association of Realtors.

Former chair, Shannon Viera, President/CEO of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce will move into the vice chair.

Karen Sphar, executive vice president at Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce, will serve as committee secretary.

The SBAC organized in 2013 and spent the year focused on gathering information on how Brunswick County can do business better, by asking business owners.

In June, the group hosted a forum for ideas at the Brunswick County Association of Realtors ballroom.

They filtered those ideas into nine recommendations that were presented to count y commissioners Oct. 21.

“We’re still working through the public forum ideas for the county commissioners

“We came to the county (Oct. 21) with recommendations from the public forum.

Commissioners asked us to pinpoint one recommendation per issue.”

Recommendation 1 is to review zoning to ensure appropriate amounts of land are and remain designated for agriculture and seafood into the future.

Recommendation 2 is to revisit county roadside vendor regulations to encourage Brunswick County produce and Brunswick County seafood sales.

Recommendation 3 is to create an Enhanced Enterprise Zone with county and municipal land use development regulations blended for use within a designated radius of a municipality to utilize the more economically viable of the two land use plans to promote growth around a municipality and ensure a spirit of cooperation.

Recommendation 4 would create a volunteer-run Permitting Mediation Council to meet with a business owner who is having difficulty with the permitting process.

Recommendation 5 would create incentives within the UDO to give businesses that want to improve, enhance or replace their functionally obsolete/non-conforming property.

Recommendation 6 would identify properties within the county with issues created by the Corridor Development Standards (and the effects of it’s recent dissolution) and work toward their resolution.

Recommendation 7 would review and streamline business reporting forms to consolidate or eliminate additional business taxes/fees.

Recommendation 8 would create a Customer Bill of Rights to ensure a level of quality customer service be provided to those using county services.

Recommendation 9 would partner SBAC and county planning staff look for ways improve and shorten the permit process between applications to completion.

Board members responded favorably to the recommendations at the Oct. 21 meeting.

Commissioner Frank Williams said they are nearly ready to be put in action, “If you get the recommendation items (prepared) as special action items – specifically with concrete policy changes,” he said.

Viera said a subcommittee of the SBAC will be put together in the new year.

She added that the SBAC will also start out 2014 reviewing county changes to the Unified Development Ordinance.

“We need to go through the county changes to determine our priorities based on those county changes,” Viera said.

While the SBAC established itself in 2013, Viera added that they are not settling into already determined issues but want more information on the business needs of the county.

“We are always looking for more input. We want people to come to the meetings,” Viera said.

“It is definitely an open forum for business issues.

 

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.