MARINETTE — It’s evident from the discussion the Marinette County Board had at its meeting last Tuesday that several supervisors would like the county’s economic development efforts carried out by a county department instead of by an external entity like a study by the Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission (BLRPC) recommended in September.

The study by BLRPC contained a recommendation by Redevelopment Resources, a Madison based consulting firm, that the county should contract with inVenture North of Marinette for economic and community development services and tourism promotion.

Cindy Wojtczak, executive director of Bay Lakes, told the county board’s Development Committee on Oct. 8 she was displeased with the study and has heard grumbles about it and that it would be revised with updated and additional information. It is scheduled to be presented to the committee this Tuesday.

She told the committee that the revised study might have a different recommendation than the initial one had and that the county board would have a chance to accept or reject it.

The full county board discussed last week whether the administration of county economic development efforts should be internal or external.

“Do you want to have an outside agency or do you want to have a county department?” Supervisor Mark Anderson, county board chairperson, asked the board. “Bay Lakes is going to come back with some other alternatives for economic development.”

County Administrator John Lefebvre said at the outset of the discussion that some county board members might have some strong feelings that, regardless of what Bay Lakes brings back for alternatives, the county should have 100 percent control of economic development efforts as opposed to contracting for services.

“If we go to an outside consultant they’re traditionally expensive and you don’t have anybody with skin in the game like we would have with an employee fulltime with the county,” said Supervisor Don Pazynski. 

“I kind of support the internal,” said Supervisor Ken Keller. “As Don said, If you do it external they don’t have any skin in the game.”

Supervisor John Guarisco is concerned that because the county hasn’t yet defined how it  plans to foster economic development, establishing an entire department dedicated to the work might be premature.

“I’m always talking about how I think we can handle it better internally,” he said. “However, until we identify what we want to do and where we want to go, creating a department and hiring employees is a pretty big step.”

He said if the county decides to change direction it would be much easier to get out of a contract with an external entity.

Supervisor Tricia Grebin says she’d prefer to see the job done in-house to best utilize the resources and networks a governmental body has access to.

“With a government agency you have the networking and you know the trends,” she said. “You can communicate with other counties and other communities. With community development and economic development you need broadband, you need housing, you need to have a good education system…What kind of students are coming out of your schools? How safe is your community? How clean is your community?

“I don’t know if an outside entity can have the access or the funding and can have communication with other committees and other departments like a government agency can. My one trouble with internal, based on my experience in government, is some things don’t move very fast. Things just don’t happen very fast.”

“I would like to see an internal person,” Supervisor Gail Wanek said. “I’ve had a vested interest since I moved here in 1986 and I think that an internal person is going to have that vested interest even if they come from outside the area.”

Supervisor Tom Mandli, who represents the board on the BLRPC, described the last-minute confusion that preceded the completion of the report presented to the county board in September.

“The Friday before our last board meeting, I was at their meeting and I went to the director and said ‘I’ll see you next Tuesday.’ She looked at me and said ‘what?’” he said. “They had an employee that had worked on this the whole time and had left three weeks before.

“So they were scrambling over the weekend trying to get something together. So it had to do with losing an employee and as soon as they got here, they realized it (the report) wasn’t well received. They put four people on it (developing a revised report) and I think what comes back is going to he far more appropriate for what we asked for.”