Battle over economic development money goes public in Clay County

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. - A battle over economic development dollars has gone public in Clay County.

The Clay County Economic Development Council published an open letter sharing their "deep concern" over suddenly losing the more than $160,000 county budget in a local newspaper.

"We were 'shocked,' would be the word for it," explained Jim Hampton, executive director of the council.

Hampton said the EDC was blindsided when county commissioners called to say that after four decades, their budget was going to someone else. One man had been hired to replace the entire council.

That one man now makes up the Clay County Economic Development Alliance.

"Make no mistake, a government contract is not an entitlement," said presiding County Commissioner Pam Mason, sharing her unhappiness with the performance of the EDC. "No matter how long you have been in business."

EDC officials say Clay County's funds made up roughly 30 percent of their annual budget. They hope for further dialogue, but county commissions say it's already too late.

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