From The President: Across My 21 Years
Across my 21 years in economic development, I’ve worn state, local and regional hats in facilitating economic development in southeastern North Carolina. The region has in that time had good years and bad as we weathered business cycles and navigated stark structural changes to our economy, such as the loss of the traditional textile industry.
At no time in my career have I been more encouraged about our region’s prospects as I have been over the last 12 months. As we look back on the first year of our public-private model we see job creation and investment results that surpass any year since the Southeast began tracking regional economic data. Since July 2014, we’ve worked closely with our local and state partners and allies in announcing $527.5 million in industrial investment and over 3,200 jobs to the region, 99% of which are manufacturing jobs.
Such success would have been impossible without the partnerships our organization maintains with its 14 counties, all of which share a strong commitment to regional collaboration.
Several recent projects are showcased below – including Butterball, LLC, and Sanderson Farms, two major names in consumer foods. Other recent additions in the last two years include Brooklyn-based Acme Smoked Fish, whose 100,000-square-foot plant supplies cold-smoked salmon to grocery stores nationwide. In Robeson County, Trinity Frozen Foods’ $15 million facility produces sweet potato French fries, an increasingly popular (and healthier) option for restaurant-goers.
Our region’s consumer food and beverage cluster is humming on all cylinders. Fueled by both national and international demand, the cluster is clearly one to watch. But our organization is doing more than watching; we’re aggressively pursuing a strategy to position North Carolina’s Southeast Region as a leading global destination for food and beverage producers and the companies that support and supply them. As I recently outlined in a guest column for the Raleigh News & Observer, our success can inspire rural communities across the state.
Looking ahead to more success in 2015-2016, please join me in congratulating our fourteen counties and our partners and allies for all that our region has accomplished.