North Carolina’s newly privatized economic development group may create a business advisory board with seats designated as rewards for private funders, board members said during a meeting Friday.
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina gets most of its funding from state taxpayers, but members of an advisory board could draw its membership from its private funders, said Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat and a member of the public-private partnership.
At Friday’s meeting, Whitehurst said the structure of the business advisory board wasn’t finalized, but he envisioned 20 members from a variety of industries and areas of the state. He said the advisory board would be designed in conjunction with the group’s fundraising plan.
Several seats on the advisory council may go to those who donate to the private arm of the partnership, Whitehurst said, in response to a reporter’s questions after the open portion of Friday’s meeting.
“There may be a few seats for people that are large contributors,” Whitehurst said.
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina opened last October, when the state’s business recruitment, tourism and marketing functions were moved out of the state Commerce Department to the newly formed private non-profit.
Lawmakers, when they authorized the move, held the group subject to open meeting and public records laws, and members of the partnership’s board also must adhere to the state ethics law.
The general public is the biggest backer of the partnership, with more than $16 million in public dollars funding the venture.