HEFLIN — The Heflin Industrial Development Board soon will ask the public for help creating a plan to promote economic development in Cleburne County.

Board members decided earlier this month to enter the Community Partner Program with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and appropriated up to $7,500 toward the fees, said Shane Smith, Heflin city clerk.

The partner program is for smaller rural communities like Cleburne County, said Tanya Maloney, a board member and executive director of the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce. The partner program should help the board get organized, she said.

“We need help,” Maloney said. “We don’t have a full-time board. We don’t have a full-time staff.”

The partnership will provide experience, expertise and a fresh eye, said Greg Knighton, vice president of the Montgomery-based EDPA. The partnership will act as a consultant in creating an action plan for business recruitment and retention, Knighton said.

“We bring a business approach and an outside perspective,” he said. “When you’re in your own surroundings you maybe don’t see things that someone outside the community might see.”

Right now, the partnership is working with the board members to determine their goals for the community, Knighton said.

He said the public will have an opportunity to contribute to that discussion.

Smith said the board members are recruiting county residents to serve as chairs and co-chairs of three committees that will help the board set community goals. The committees – business recruitment, business retention and renewal – will each explore different goals for the community. Renewal will focus on things like marketing, downtown revitalization and tourism, he said. The other two will focus on recruitment of new business and retaining current businesses, he said.

The board hopes to recruit six to eight people for each committee. Those interested in serving on a committee should call him at 256-463-2290 to volunteer. Once the committees are formed they will meet from October through June. In June, the information they’ve gathered will be used to create the action plan.

The board hopes to have committee chairs and vice chairs in place by July 1, Smith said.

Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545 or, in Heflin, 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.