WATER VALLEY–A check in the amount of $50,968.29 from the Yalobusha Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (EDF) liquidated the money in the non-active foundation’s account.
The check was written in June and comes after a request from Water Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Daniel Martin to put the money to use. It was money that had been sitting for almost a decade, minus a contribution to the Water Valley Main Street Association in 2007.
EDF board members signed off on the transfer after the Chamber created a new foundation, the Water Valley Regional Foundation.
History of the EDF
The EDF was chartered in February, 1987, as a corporation and operated in conjunction with the Chamber, but with a separate board and by-laws. It was funded with a $500 monthly contribution funneled through the Chamber, half of the monthly allocation the Chamber received from Yalobusha County.
The county has funded $1,000 a month to both the Water Valley and Coffeeville chambers since the late 1960s.
The EDF also received a $1,100 monthly check from the City of Water Valley, plus payment of utilities and office space–until 2004.
Both funding sources were cut in early 2004. First the Water Valley Board of Aldermen voted to stop the $1,100 monthly check to the EDF in January, 2004.
Next the 10-person board of directors leading the chamber in 2004 voted 8-2 to stop the funding during a March meeting that same year.
In a letter submitted by then EDF board president Rex Howell to the Herald two weeks after the city funding was cut, the organization reported it was in the “process of reorganizing.”
The letter also explained a shift in the focus of the foundation–working county-wide instead of just in the Water Valley area.
In fact, the broader focus started prior to the 2004 funding, when the foundation worked on several projects outside the Water Valley area–creating the debate about using funds generated from Water Valley taxpayers in other areas of the county.
In that letter, the EDF explained the focus on economic development needed to be county-wide and not just in Water Valley.
Following the reorganization, the foundation logged little activity until 2007, when the organization hosted a county-wide meeting at the Multi-purpose Building to discuss the economic development void in the county.
An agreement was hammered out in that 2007 meeting, with supervisors agreeing to fund a county-wide district with a paid director. The district was organized the following year as the Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism District. Bob Tyler was hired as the director, a position he has held since then.
What wasn’t settled in that 2007 meeting was the fate of $69,000 sitting in the EDF bank account. At that time $15,000 had been pledged to the Water Valley Main Street Association. Several audits accounted for the difference between the remaining $54,000 and $50,968.29.