LOGAN - The Logan-Hocking Chamber of Commerce and Hocking County Community Improvement Corporation will further their separation from each other beginning Jan. 1, 2014 when Bill Rinehart, executive director of both organizations, will end his involvement with the CIC.
LOGAN — The Logan-Hocking Chamber of Commerce and Hocking County Community Improvement Corporation will further their separation from each other beginning Jan. 1, 2014 when Bill Rinehart, executive director of both organizations, will end his involvement with the CIC.
In a 5-4 decision at a CIC board meeting earlier this week, CIC Board president Larry Kienzle provided the tie-breaking vote to separate the position of executive director from that of the chamber of commerce, effective in 2014.
Kienzle said Thursday that the move was to conform with state code for state improvement corporations such as the CIC, whose purpose is to recruit and retain local businesses in an effort to create jobs.
“We needed to make the split somehow and we’re not being detrimental to anybody or saying someone was doing something wrong,” Kienzle emphasized.
In April, the CIC reduced the board members from 15 to 10 to comply with state regulations and comprised the new 10-member panel to consist of 60 percent public officials and 40 percent from the private sector.
While there are state requirements about the 60/40 split of public to private sector members, Kienzle noted there are no such requirements governing the executive director position.
“I think it will be beneficial for both organizations,” Kienzle said of the change. “Both organizations will continue to do their jobs to promote economic development, not only with new businesses, but helping existing businesses.”
Voting in favor of the change, besides Kienzle, were CIC Vice President Jim St. Clair, CIC Treasurer Keith Hood, Logan Mayor Martin Irvine and Hocking County Commissioner Clark Sheets Jr. Voting against were Andy Good and Fred James, both representing the Logan-Hocking Chamber of Commerce, Logan City Auditor Tina Lindsay and Hocking County Auditor Ken Wilson.
Kienzle said the CIC board will start looking for a new executive director, but does not currently have a person in mind.
According to Irvine, the new position doesn’t yet have a job description since it’s so new, and it will be some time before the board posts the job online.
“If you look at economic development organizations, they are separate from the chamber of commerce in that they have very distinct roles that are different,” Irvine said, explaining his reasoning for supporting the change in leadership.
Irvine, who has several years of economic development experience himself, said he isn’t personally interested in fulfilling the position. “It needs to be someone from the outside,” he noted.
Wilson, who joined the board in April as a county appointee when the CIC reorganization took place, said he didn’t support the change because he thought the organization would have been better served financially by waiting another year.
“This change, I thought, was too quick, too fast, and I disagreed to make that kind of change until at the end of the year,” Wilson noted. “We would have been better served had we waited until next year when his current contract would expire to allow for some transition time working with the new board.”
Rinehart will receive the same salary through his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of 2014.
“For the next year or so nothing will change, and then they’ll evaluate it,” Rinehart said of his salary.
“The chamber and CIC, over the years, has grown and both organizations felt they needed this change,” Rinehart told The Logan Daily News on Thursday. “Both feel that with everything going on and with Erin [Gibson] leaving, it was an opportunity for them to restructure.”
Chamber office manager Erin Gibson recently announced that she’ll be leaving in mid-September to work in the office of Logan Clay Products.
Rinehart, who has served as the CIC executive director for 13 years, said he will no longer divide his time between chamber and CIC business, but will focus solely on chamber matters instead.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to grow the chamber,” he noted.
In the meantime, Rinehart said he will be fulfilling some of Gibson's duties after she departs, along with chamber technical and economic administrative assistant Carol Martin.
Rinehart and the new CIC executive director will work in the same office at their new location in the Shaw Building in Downtown Logan.
In the past 12 months, four companies have committed to opening locations in Hocking County, including Peebles Department Store, Melvin Stone Company, Taco Bell and Digital Works, which officially opened in August. At least eight other new start-up companies also have opened their doors.
"The CIC has received several new leads in the past year of businesses interested in coming to the area. A full-time director will allow the CIC to better pursue those leads and bring businesses to Hocking County," Kienzle said in a written statement. "The director also will help us distribute grant money to small businesses and startups."
The CIC recently applied for its second $100,000 Revolving Loan Fund Grant. Six loans were awarded from the original grant.
Membership in the chamber also is expected to grow by 25 percent, compared to last year.
"There is huge opportunity with all of the new businesses in Logan to continue to grow membership," chamber president Autumn Warthman said in a written statement. "With Bill as our new full-time executive director, we will be able to continue to provide quality services to our members while looking for new ways to help fulfill their business goals."