We at the port are a quasi-governmental agency.
We are funded via direct contributions from interested parties in the community and via a contribution from the Board of County Commissioners.
This set up is not unlike what is in existence in most of the U.S. Economic development agencies have a variety of funding streams, most are public-private partnerships (P3’s) that exist to execute necessary business activity.
Our County Commissioners have long been gracious to our organization, and as a parent, their direction and funding is critical to our planning. This year we approached the County Commission with a request that matched historical trends in giving. Since its inception, this community has contributed on average $80,000 to support business operations in the county. The number of donation has ebbed and flowed and throughout we have relied on county assistance to continue to finance operations.
The County Commissioners have historically funded well above and sometimes slightly below that same mark (circumstances depending). In 2014 the Commission put a challenge to the Port Authority to generate a specific fundraising goal in order to get a $100,000 match. Through some angel gifts and commitments from existing funders, those marks were achieved, and the County stepped up in a huge way.
For the last two years however those county contribution figures were dialed back to $67,500. The reasoning for such a move was one that I have been told was due to some of our own organizational inconsistency and a need for unified vision among the County and the organization. We have taken this advice to heart and have worked to satisfy those concerns, and demonstrate the return on investment we provide.
Since I arrived in July of 2017 I have made it a priority to work hand in hand with our greatest funder and also the most powerful legislative body in the county. Without the backing of the County, projects simply don’t occur. Working in tandem on projects that meet community need and can be justified by the County are the path forward for public private partnership agreements.
We don’t have the resources as a community to not work in tandem. As we move forward know that actions are pursued in tandem with many area organizations as to reduce overall cost burden to local governments and among the major funders of area initiatives. It is critical we work together to achieve more and I am confident that as we articulate clear combined goals between city and county governments, the project financing will flow.
It is a great time to be in local government and working in PPP’s. Let’s build the future we want together.