Franklin Southampton Futures runs out of projects

Published 10:21 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

FRANKLIN—An organization chartered in 2004 and tasked with helping to bring together the governments of Franklin and Southampton County has disbanded.

Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Beale said Franklin Southampton Futures ran out of projects, but is looking to maintain its non-profit status by becoming part of the chamber.

Futures had been aligned with the Chamber since the organization’s creation, when the Chamber acted as its secretary.

“That seems like a logical place to park it,” Beale said of the effort to protect Futures’ tax-exempt status.

Futures board President Bill Howell said the board is looking at ways to maintain the organization, like placing it under the umbrella of the Chamber and preserving the non-profit status.

He added that a lack of projects and the loss of board members led to the group’s hiatus.

“Right now, we don’t have a project that benefits both the county and the city,” Howell said. “Hopefully, we can do something in the future.”

Futures was created as a recommendation of the Franklin-Southampton Alliance, and Boykins attorney Damian Dwyer was named the first president. The group then started the process of becoming a registered non-profit.

When Futures began, it operated on a dues system, but recently the organization has relied on donations and contributions from the Camp Foundation and Franklin-Southampton Charities, Howell said.

In addition to combining the economic development efforts of both Franklin and Southampton County with the creation of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., Futures was also responsible for starting and originally funding the JROTC program at Franklin High School.

“I wish I could rattle off the funding they’ve given us,” said Franklin School Board Chairman Bill Scarboro. “It’s been a tremendous amount of money. We’re going to miss them.”

The group recently donated $5,502 to the Franklin JROTC program, but has been less involved with it since it became eligible for federal funding about a year ago, Howell said.

Franklin Mayor Jim Councill said Futures helped the city because it took things out of the government process and put them in the hands of the citizens.

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said the group was important to both communities because it helped to raise awareness of issues that were important to residents.

“Government sometimes goes to the beat of its own drum, and this was an organization that was outside government,” Johnson said.