Local Community Development Corporations

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update on Proposed/Planned Merger of Winston-Salem's Three Major Development Organizations

In April I wrote this post concerning a plan to unite the fundraising and planning efforts of Winston-Salem's three major economic development organizations: the Winston-Salem Alliance, Winston-Salem Biz Inc., and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. As I reported before, the W-S Alliance is composed of many prominent local leaders, W-S Biz Inc. was spun out of the Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and focuses on attracting new companies or industries to W-S, while the Downtown Partnership is a large group comprised of many shareholders whose mandate is the revitalization of the downtown area.

According to an article in today's Winston-Salem Journal, the Alliance and Winston-Salem Biz have signed onto the plan and the board of the Partnership is set to vote on the matter in September. There is concern that the plan, which is the brainchild of and is being spearheaded by the Alliance, represents an attempt to return to the good 'ol days when the city's fortunes wre controlled by a few wealthy tycoons: that the Alliance would have too much say in how monies allotted to the specific mandates of the other two groups would be spent.

In my analysis, the plan could and should benefit W-S. Fundraising is a painful, thankless job for all involved - any attempts to increase its efficiency should be embraced. In terms of planning: these organizations have missional and jurisdictional overlaps which would be benefited by coordinated efforts. I think the Alliance has more in common with Biz Inc. than with the Downtown Partnership and I will leave the decision whether it is in their best interest to join forces in the capable hands of their board. In the end, while I would scrutinize the decision-making process for disbursing the fruits of fundraising closely, I think the plan is a good idea.

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