REDI does not anticipate changes to organizational structure

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COLUMBIA - A day after a Columbia city councilman called for more transparency, accountability and productivity from REDI, the president of the public/private partnership said the organization doesn't plan on making any changes.

REDI President Stacey Button said she's "not anticipating any changes to REDI's organizational structure." And that ever since she became president in January, "REDI has provided transparency and enhanced communication not only to city council, but to city management, REDI board and investors."

Columbia's Ward 3 Council Member Karl Skala said he wants to make sure the lines between public and private are drawn, so taxpayer's dollars are spent the way they want it. 

"If we're contributing $537,000 per year and the private side of this organization is contributing $300 or $350,000 a year, despite the fact that they've grown in influence from four people, beyond the two we orignally have, to 19, that suggests to me that there may be a problem. I don't know. We ought to discuss it."

Columbia's Ward 2 Council Member had a different opinion.

"I do not agree with Karl Skala," Michael Trapp said in an email, "REDI has been tremendously successful at recruiting high quality jobs, supporting entrepreneurship and retaining jobs with our existing employers. The public private partnership really magnifies the impact of the City's investment in economic development. Bringing together the University, surrounding communities and the business community to coordinate our efforts just makes sense and is going to have the biggest positive effects."

Columbia's Ward 4 Council Member Laura Nauser said she doesn't feel like economic development is a priority in the city and that's apparent through the low funding on each economic activity. Nauser said she's comfortable with the size of the community -- until it gets serious and finds different revenue sources. But she said she feels the way REDI is set up now is a good blend of public/private partnership and she has no problem with the way it conducts business. 

A work session about REDI is scheduled for September 7 at 6 p.m

"At that work session," Button said, "REDI will continue the conversation and educate city council on the benefits of a public/private organization -- such as REDI."