Local News

Raleigh Economic Development Program Questioned

Posted May 7, 2003

— Some Raleigh leaders want to know if the city is getting its money's worth from an economic development program.

John Church of the

Raleigh Chamber of Commerce

heads an economic development program that is supposed to bring jobs to the Capitol City. Over the last four years, he has spent nearly $600,000 in city money and traveled to Sweden four times.

"We need to start seeing some results. Ultimately, we need to see whether our half million dollars is bringing a good dividend to the city of Raleigh," council member Philip Isley said.

"We think the money has been well spent. We're well within budget every year. I've had eight Swedish clients as a result of these trips," Church said.

So far, none of those Swedish clients have brought jobs to Raleigh. Church said he saved some jobs by convincing Harris Wholesale, Inc. not to move its operations out of town.

Church was scheduled to give a quarterly update Tuesday. Ken Atkins, Church's boss, offered to field questions instead.

"We're here just as a matter of presenting the report and answering any questions you might have," Atkins told council members.

The council did not have any questions -- at least in public. They sent the issue to a committee that will study the spending and evaluate the results.

Church and chamber members said they welcome scrutiny of how tax dollars are spent.

Some council members expressed support for Church and his program, pointing out that economic development takes time.

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