Pittsylvania Co. Supervisors Divided Over Economic Development Vote

Pittsylvania Co., VA - The elimination of the Pittsylvania County Office of Economic Development has left a lot of people scratching their heads.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 to shut down the office on a motion that seemed to catch some supervisors off guard.

Many are wondering what now for economic development there?

The board action is effective immediately.

So county officials are now trying to reassign the economic development director's duties and decide how to move forward.

"I came by today to actually clean out my desk and send some emails to some contacts and make sure they know where I'm headed, and that's probably the house, " said former Economic Development Director Ken Bowman.

Mr. Bowman says he was shocked to find out his office had been terminated in a closed session vote by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.

Bowman's wife was one of three Supervisors to vote against that move, but the motion carried.

"The department's been here about three and a half years, and we've made some extreme progress here in Pittsylvania County, " he said.

Bowman had taken business trips across the country and brought international interest to the area.

Some supervisors say this move is about the budget, and a need to move in a different direction.

"It'll save money, but my long-term - I've been thinking about this for a long time - is to go regional, do more of a regional approach. I'd like to build the relationship with Danville and do a lot more with them economically to move our area forward, " said Supervisor Tim Barber.

Board Chairman Marshall Ecker takes issue with the whole thing. He says the process should have been handled differently, and that office is needed now more than ever.

"We have been set back. If Pittsylvania County doesn't change, we are still back in horse and buggy days, " said Ecker.

"Cuts are painful and I hate the way it went, but we've got to cut back, " Barber said.

A few Supervisors said they believe personal politics against Brenda Bowman's decision to vote for Marshall Ecker to become board chairman may have led to the decision to terminate her husband's office.

The County Administrator and Assistant Administrator will assume Mr. Bowman's responsibilities.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the city of Danville pledged their continuing commitment to working with the county on economic development.