2009: A Year of Transition

Change, they say, is life’s only constant. The year 2009 served as a constant reminder of that fact. North Carolina’s Southeast saw significant transitions both externally and internally.

We likely will remember 2009 as a painful but pivotal year economically. The last 12 months saw important progress in emerging industry clusters such as alternative energy and renewed vitality in traditional ones like military contracting and consumer foods. We’ve seen the launch of important new business assets – attractive new industrial parks in Brunswick, Columbus and Pender counties, for example – and the addition of innovative new workforce development, education and applied research programs at the region’s colleges and universities. 

New leaders have emerged – not just in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh – but also on the staffs of our local economic development organizations, private allies and public partners.

The Commission itself has seen its fair share of changes in recent months. Joining our ranks has been Tammy McPherson, our new office manager. As I have transitioned into new responsibilities as director, Joe Melvin has emerged as a capable successor in my former position of marketing director. We’ll soon be joined by Pam Bostic and Linda Melvin of the Southeastern Economic Development Commission, which is relocating to our office building in a move that opens new possibilities for cohesion and synergies between state- and federally-funded regional development strategies.

The year has not been without disappointments. Business closures and job losses have affected nearly all of our communities. Tight government budgets have forced cuts in economic development programs at all levels. But 2009 will also be remembered as a year the region took several important steps forward – accepting new challenges, innovating in key program areas and readying Southeastern North Carolina for success in a new economic era. We can look at 2009 with pride that we embraced these changes with courage and creativity, and achieved big things by working together.

Steve Yost, CEcD
N.C. Southeast Commission