Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

County News

County Economic Development Advisory Board  Murphy Looking for Regional Summit

Tim Murphy sitting at table, gesturing

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Commissioner Tim Murphy has a passion for politics, economic development, and talking. At yesterday's Economic Development Advisory Board meeting, Mr. Murphy demonstrated all three and announced that he is looking to have a regional summit to bring Columbia County's sister counties to the table so they are all heading in the same direction.


For decades, Columbia County, at the intersection of I-10 and I-75, has touted its location as the premier location in North Central Florida for economic development. In the past, Columbia County's Industrial Development Authority (IDA) was the economic development driver for the county. While it did have a few successes, most of its accomplishments were nondescript and almost ten years ago was dissolved and incorporated as a county department, which eventually became known as the Economic Development Advisory Board.

Late in 2011, Jesse Quillen, a real economic development director was hired by the county after an extensive search. It didn't take him long to realize that economic development in Columbia County was an uphill battle.

In 2014, after Mr. Quillen's resignation, Glenn Hunter was hired by legendary County Manager Dale Williams to succeed Mr. Quillen, and while Mr. Quillen was here only a short time, he laid the groundwork for the County economic development that was over the horizon.

For years, Mr. Hunter took his knocks, particularly from the County's mainstream good ole' boy print media and the Lake City Reporter's Robert Bridges, but Mr. Hunter has persevered and today, Columbia County is in an economic development renaissance.

Retail development has also blossomed in Lake City along the U.S. 90 corridor, in good measure due to the efforts of past City Manager Wendell Johnson.

Real Time: rumblings & grumblings

Today, economic development is booming and at its elected helm is County Commissioner Tim Murphy, who is chair of the Economic Development Advisory Board.

Lately, there have been rumblings and grumblings in North Central Florida that Columbia County is receiving an undue share of the economic development grant money handed out by Tallahassee from funds that many consider political slush funds.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Murphy addressed the issue.

Mr. Murphy commented that a Bradford County commissioner who he has "come to know over the past couple of years" noticed this when he mentioned the "$10 million grant last year for the sewage plant that was received by Columbia County."

In years past (pre Governor Scott), these types of projects were financed by low interest loans by DEP. They are now financed by government handouts.

Mr. Murphy continued, "He brought up a very valid point. All communities in Florida, especially North Central Florida, are all fighting to get some kind of grant... the point that we basically come up with is that should we not as five-six County rural area, should we not be approachin' Tallahassee in more of a collective manner."

"His point is as simple as this. He said, 'It's great Lake City got the sewage thing, but you got all this money going towards the mega-site out here. He said, 'Should collectively all be workin' together to try to get that thing 100% off the ground, because it's gonna' affect all of us. If we get a good project over there at the mega-site, no doubt it's gonna' affect Bradford County, Union County. Should we collectively start bringin' all our thoughts together?'"

Mr. Murphy summed up his conversation with the mystery Bradford County commissioner, "We are considerin' maybe bringin' together a regional summit to get everybody sittin' in the same room, and then collectively talk to Sen. Bradley and Mr. Brannan and all the representatives."

Econ. Dev. Dir. Glenn Hunter said, "Just in economic development, we have seven grants open."

Mr. Murphy explained that he wants to have a round table, which includes economic development people, commissioners, business leaders, and those who can contribute.

Mr. Murphy said he wanted to include Bradford County, Union County, Hamilton County, and Suwannee County, "basically what the college already serves."

Mr. Murphy said he wanted to take advantage of the legislative session.

"Columbia is the hub of North Central Florida," Murphy said.

Mr. Murphy mentioned that he also wants to hear from the public.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.