EDC board votes to dip into reserves to fund lobbyist

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission voted Wednesday to allow EDC President Ted Clem to dip into the entity's reserve fund to pay for a federal lobbyist until the end of the fiscal year.

The Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Cornerstone was funded previously through funding provided to the EDC from the Albany-Area Chamber of Commerce, a voting member of the EDC.

But those excess funds are, as Clem told the board Wednesday, "running dry" with months left to go before the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

"Cornerstone is an important resource in Washington especially when it comes to ensuring the safety and stability of (Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany) among the folks in Washington," Clem said.

Not a lobbyist in the traditional sense, Clem said, because they don't push for legislation on the EDC's behalf, Cornerstone does help keep Albany and Dougherty County in the ears of the congressional delegation and on the minds of influential officials at the Pentagon.

The vote Wednesday will allow Clem to use the EDC's reserve fund to pay the $8,300 per-month bill to Cornerstone until June 30, at which time the board will either find another way to fund it or will decide to go in a different direction.

The EDC derives the vast majority of its funding through "dues" paid by its three members -- the City of Albany, the Dougherty County Commission and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

In other business, EDC officials announced that Albany will be one of the stops for the Electrical Cities of Georgia's bus tour on March 2.

The tour will allow local officials to host state development officials as well as state project managers, Clem said. The stop will feature a dinner as well as tours of local available properties and amenities.