The Iron County Economic Partnership is responding to concerns that have been raised in the past week, especially through social media, about the organization’s mission, makeup and motivations.
ICEP was originally a part of the Iron County Taum Sauk Fund incorporated Feb. 7, 2008 as a tax-exempt non-profit organization when settlement funds became available from Ameren for areas adversely impacted by the breach of the Taum Sauk Reservoir in 2005.
Since that time, the board of directors from Iron County and Reynolds County decided to divide the funds and separate the original organization into two entities. The Taum Sauk Fund now works on projects specific to Reynolds County. The Iron County Taum Sauk Fund, now called Iron County Economic Partnership, or ICEP, received its half of the funding in December 2011.
“We appreciate the interest of the public in the activities of ICEP,” said Nathan McKie, ICEP board president. “The mission can be found on our current website, www.ictsf.org. ICEP’s agenda and minutes can also be found there and anyone is welcome to call for more details on anything in the minutes.”
Noting that “generalities are difficult to deal with,” McKie emphasized that representatives of the organization would be happy to meet members of the community at the ICEP office in Ironton to answer specific questions.
“We begin our monthly board meetings with an opportunity for the public to speak, as well,” he said. “If you let us know ahead of time that you wish to speak or ask a question we can allot sufficient time to allow for that discussion.”
According to McKie, members of the board are unpaid volunteers and operate under the rules and rulings of the Internal Revenue Service for organizations that have received a 501(c)3 exemption.
“Board members are not allowed to receive or be a party to any funding awarded or vote when approving funding requests,” he said. “While they try to address most of their business in public, there are topics that for confidentiality reasons must be done in closed session.”
Sandy Francis, ICEP’s director of Partnership Development, explained that board vacancies occur when a regular term ends and/or when a director is not able to serve their elected term.
“All organizations struggle to get volunteers for board positions,” she said. “Business owners are often the leaders who step up to fill these positions, not because they expect some type of benefit, but because they understand the importance of having a vibrant community. When a vacancy occurs, anyone living in the census tract or tracts available for that position may nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else.
“ICEP continues to seek entities wishing to expand a current business or begin a new business in Iron County. A legal review of the statute under which ICEP operates as a 501(c)3, advised that any funding disbursements not only generate revenue but also create new jobs. We also offer a Community Event Grant for non-profit organizations that demonstrate how their event will bring visitors to the area and thereby boost economic activity by supporting local businesses.”
Francis advised that a new ICEP website is under construction designed to guide the citizens of Iron County, visitors, potential residents and prospective new businesses in their search for programs and opportunities, including those that are ICEP-funded, as well as those with whom ICEP has partnered.
“Our goal is to make it easy to find all needed information on one website,” Francis said.
Francis stressed that ICEP welcomes ideas, questions, suggestions or concerns.
“Offering viable solutions for an area of concern or need is a great way to be proactive in helping to make Iron County a more vibrant area to live and work,” she said. “ICEP functions only to fulfill its mission to the best of its ability. We hope the community will continue to be interested in how we might do a better job.”
“Offering viable solutions for an area of concern or need is a great way to be proactive in helping to make Iron County a more vibrant area to live and work.” — Sandy Francis, ICEP director of Partnership Development
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or firstname.lastname@example.org