Phenix City and Troy University have launched a partnership that may very well be unlike any other in the state.
For the next five years, Troy’s Center for International Business and Economic Development will work with city officials developing opportunities to advance the city economically.
Initially an office will be set up inside City Hall. During the next six to eight weeks, Troy’s staff and students will conduct a comprehensive economic development study which will assess everything from downtown development to industrial recruitment to work force development.
“Our scope will be pretty comprehensive when it comes to the study,” said Judson Edwards, director of the Center for International Business and Economic Development.
Edwards and his staff will begin the project by traveling back and forth from Troy assisting the city with downtown development, planning, industrial recruitment, retail development and small business development. But after the plan is completed, a full-time person will be hired and a local office will be sought.
“I will be coming up on a weekly basis,” Edwards said. “We will end up hiring for a position and we’ll have a full-time person in Phenix City all the time. In the meantime we have a staff of 12 in my office and we’ll do it distance-wise.”
Edwards said this is part of a new educational program at Troy, which includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in economic development. All of the Alabama campuses will offer the programs this year.
Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter is excited about this plan.
“This economic development partnership pools our talents and resources to attract retail, commercial and industrial development to our city and community,” Coulter said. “We anticipate that this partnership will become a model for cities throughout our great state to follow.”
For these comprehensive services, the city will pay Troy $36,000 annually with an option to purchase additional services for up to $100,000 annually.
Edwards said the additional funds might be needed to cover shared expenses of maintaining an office with at least one full-time employee.
Officials say this is truly a cost-saving measure for the university. The estimated cost of a comprehensive study for a city this size is approximately $60,000 to $75,000.
“We’re doing it at a reduced rate because what we’re trying to do at the university is offer outreach assistance,” Edwards said. “What we hope to do it generate information and understand the needs of Phenix City better so we can provide services to compliment their needs.”