By Lynette Norris Greene Publishing, Inc. He was the only candidate without a Powerpoint presentation, but by the end of the meeting, the County Commissioners chose him to administer the CDBG Grant for Economic Development. Jim Parrish of Parrish and Associates described himself as “the low-tech guy.” He was up against two other competitors who had emphasized the complexity of the county’s proposed economic development project, and the teams of experts on their staff who would handle that complexity. By common agreement, none of the firms competing for the contract were present in the room while each one made its presentation to the commissioner, but Parrish also homed in on the issue of complexity, telling the board that didn’t matter if the county’s project was large or small. “The rules are the same,” he said. “The CDBG looks at things like the number of jobs created.” “I am your project manager (for the grant administration),” he said. His business as a general grants consultant was a small business in Madison, a sole proprietorship, but it was something he had been doing for over 20 years, not only for Madison, but for Greeneville, Jasper and several other nearby communities. He was very familiar with all those communities and the area surrounding them, and a big part of the grants administration modus operandi was the long-term relationships he had developed with the people and the communities he had worked with on those projects over the years. It was as much about those relationships and knowing who could make things happen, as it was about technical expertise. Other competing firms included Fred Fox Enterprises, Inc., a 30-year-old firm headquartered in St. Augustine, but with economic development projects to its name all over North Florida. Susan Emrich of David H. Melvin, Inc., established in 1989, gave an enthusiastic presentation, with a firm that could provide both administration and engineering services. “Having everything together under one roof is a powerful tool,” she said. “It would be a pleasure to be assigned to work with Madison, because that’s home.” In fact, David H. Melvin, Inc. did score a little higher than Parrish when the commissioner did their initial rankings during the presentations, coming in at 371 points to Parrish’s 365. It was a close race, and Attorney Tommy Reeves, in response to a question from one of the commissioners said that the board was not bound by the rankings, but if they wanted to go with a firm other than the top-ranked, it would be a good idea to give a reason, even though it was only a six-point spread. The reason, articulated by Commissioner Ronnie Moore, who had worked with both Melvin and Parrish in the past and commended them both, was that he felt it would be better not to have both grant administration and project engineering services under one roof. Having two different entities looking at the project from different sides seemed like a better way to proceed. The commission mostly agreed, and voted to award the contract to Parrish.