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IDA resolving conflict issue

POSTED: September 16, 2011 12:40 p.m.

As the Effingham Industrial Development Authority courts a potential serious prospect, board members also are taking steps to avoid a possibly thorny issue.

The IDA is working with Georgia Industrial Commercial and Residential Real Estate Company in talks with a prospect. IDA board member Dick Knowlton is the chief financial officer of the firm.

In a letter to IDA Chairman Dennis Webb, Knowlton spelled out that he would excuse himself from any discussions about the prospect and would not vote on any IDA matters involving the potential project. Knowlton does not have any interest in the prospect, IDA attorney Marvin Fentress said.

“The letter he sent said he is not going to participate in any of the discussions on the project at all,” Fentress added.

Said IDA CEO John Henry: “We would rather err on the side of caution.”

Knowlton’s interest in Georgia Industrial Commercial and Residential Real Estate Company triggered a code section where a board member has a financial interest.

“I think we’re complying with the statutes and going through the hoops we need to go through,” Fentress said.

The IDA also delayed approving using The Coastal Bank as holder of accounts needed as part of its new bond package. Bond closing was held Wednesday in Atlanta.

IDA board member Chap Bennett is an officer at The Coastal Bank and Knowlton also serves on its board of directors.

Henry sought out local and area banks and was prepared to recommend The Coastal Bank as having the best deal.

Fentress suggested having the meeting minutes reflect that the IDA intended to establish two accounts with The Coastal Bank and recommended ratifying that until the next meeting.

Knowlton’s letter also noted his interest as an officer and minority owner in White Branch Consultants, Inc., and in R2C, Inc.

He said he did not believe the IDA would not enter into a contract with either company but also did not want a question to arise in the future.

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