Nestic: Panel can release funds to SOD

SALEM – Designating the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center as the city’s economic development partner, with access to money set aside for economic development, does not require council approval.

That’s the answer Councilman Dave Nestic received from city Auditor Betty Brothers regarding use of the $40,000 put in a line item for economic development in the city council budget.

That doesn’t mean he and the Economic Development Committee he chairs won’t be giving his fellow council members the chance to comment on the partnership and the scope of work.

The committee agreed earlier this week to designate the SOD Center as the city’s partner, with Nestic to meet with SOD Center Executive Director Larry Kosiba to define the scope of work expected for 2014. He’ll take that information back to the committee and Mayor John Berlin and then report to council during his committee report, giving them the chance to make comment. If other council members show up for the committee meeting and do their talking then, they’ll be able to move forward sooner.

Nestic said Wednesday that his personal preference will be to limit the money to $10,000 per quarter, giving the committee the ability to control it. If the progress outlined in the quarterly report looks appropriate, then they’ll release the next $10,000. Having quarterly reports will be one of the requirements.

During the meeting Monday night, he also said the agreement would involve assisting the city with planning, possibly investigating putting another industrial park together, keeping the web-based information vault about all things Salem known as SEED BASE updated, working on retention, expansion and attraction of business and responding to opportunities as they arise.

He’ll also be looking at requiring match money of at least 50 percent to 100 percent from the non-profit entity to combine with council’s money.

Nestic said he’s hoping to finalize everything in February.