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Officials ponder new format

For about a year, elected officials from around Whidbey Island have been meeting informally, over sandwiches and pop, to discuss creating an islandwide council of governments.

The council is intended to be an organization that would address primarily financial and business-oriented issues. With the start of the new year, this council is moving toward formalization.

On Wednesday, this nascent political coffee klatch, which included Island County Commissioners Bill Thorn and Mike Shelton and Langley mayor Lloyd Furman, met with Kelly Molstad from the Skagit Council of Governments to pick Molstad’s brain about the organization, function and goals of SKOG. Also on hand was LaConnor mayor and current SKOG chairman Eron Berg.

Molstad presented the Island County officials with what amounted to a success story for SKOG. He told them how the organization has helped the Skagit County business community with the administration of about $5 million in low-interest loans for struggling businesses.

Commissioner Shelton pointed out that Island County officials, in moving toward becoming a COG of their own, were interested in attracting employers to the region, a job that has typically been handled by the Islands District Economic Development Council. Molstad said that Skagit’s EDC is not in the business of loaning to businesses, and that SKOG and EDC function independently of each other.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard indicated the possibility of some form of partnership between the two organizations in the future.

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