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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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County expands economic development job
Mike Burnette will now focus on bringing jobs here
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: Mike Burnette, the county’s director of commerce and leisure services, will now focus solely on economic development for Franklin County.

Friday, February 1, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

Franklin County will soon have a full-time economic development director.

In a restructuring of positions currently under way, Mike Burnette, who has been the county's director of commerce and leisure services, will focus solely on economic development.

"In an effort to remain competitive in the market place, the county will soon fill the position of parks and recreation director, thereby freeing Mr. Burnette's time to fully focus on business retention and expansion in his role as the county's director of economic development," a county press release stated.

"Providing a full-time staff position to focus all of his energy and time on economic development will advance the county board's strategic goals, as economic development is the board's highest priority with providing jobs for our community," said David Cundiff, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. 

Last year, a citizen-led Economic Development Advisory Committee completed an economic development study, outlining various recommendations.

One of the primary recommendations from the study was for the county to staff an economic development office with someone devoted to agricultural and business development, and industrial growth. 

The county has discussed the issue in the past and noted that Franklin County is lagging behind other jurisdictions in the region without a full-time director.

"As business recruitment and development is highly competitive, surrounding localities across the region have historically devoted multiple staff positions in support of economic development," said county Administrator Richard Huff II. 

Under the former structure, Burnette was assigned to business recruitment and support on a part-time basis, splitting time with parks and recreational responsibilities.

The organizational change with the addition of a new parks and recreation director will be covered with existing budgetary dollars, according to Chris Whitlow, assistant county administrator. 

That position has already been posted, and application reviews will begin on Feb. 11.

Franklin County has fared well in economic development, ranking second in the Roanoke region and 13th among the state's 135 localities in 2012 in the number of new jobs created. 

The county was also recently awarded a $359,883 grant from the Tobacco Commission to assist with the funding in the grading of the final lot in the Franklin County Commerce Center on U.S. 220 South. 

Once completed, this industrial pad will be one of only two remaining sites in the park. 

The Economic Development Advisory Committee's study also recognized the diminishing inventory of available business and industrial pads, and suggested the county add sites to its product inventory. 

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