LAKELAND - All seven members of the Lakeland-Lanier Development Authority have resigned, dissolving the all volunteer economic development organization.

The Authority members submitted a letter of resignation to the Lanier Board of Commissioners June 9, citing disappointment with the lack of support from the county, particularly regarding the USA Select property in Lakeland.

According to The Lanier County News, the letter read: "We the following Development Authority members hereby resign due to the lack of support and commitment from the Lanier County Commissioners. It is impossible for the Development Authority to function properly without the Commissioners' support."

The letter was signed by Authority Chairman Larry Lee, Vice Chairman Dub Music and members Franklin Patten, Michael Miller, Wendy Moore, Wayne Chadwick and Joe Brogdon.

The Authority had received a grant from the OneGeorgia Authority, administered by the county, to assist USA Select, a mobile home manufacturer, with land, infrastructure and a building, which the company was expected to pay back over a period of years, in addition to bank loans. The company was only in business for a few months and defaulted on its obligations.

The Authority was seeking financial aid from the county commission to pay the interest on a $1 million loan to keep the plant in the Authority's hands to be marketed for future use.

Miller, who has served on the Authority for more than 10 years, said the Commissioners had promised to help the Authority financially at a meeting in May, but "changed their minds after the meeting and the funds never came through."

He said the Authority had been actively trying to recruit a new business which could have taken over the company's payments and financial obligations on the property to satisfy the bank loan.

Miller said the Authority is not funded by the county, has no paid staff, and with the resignation of the all volunteer board, is unsure of the future of development in the county.

"I'd love to be back on the Board. Our committee had grown into a true city/county development authority and worked well together, but we felt this was our only alternative. We had no options left," he said.

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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