Partnership’s Annual Meeting Draws 120 Attendees

Elizabethtown’s Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery was the backdrop for The Southeastern Partnership’s 2017 Annual Meeting. The event drew 120 guests from around the region, including board members, partners, allies and investors.

“It’s only by working smart, working hard and working together that we can accomplish our bold mission,” Chairman Jeff Etheridge told the gathering. “We couldn’t do this alone. In fact, no one could do this alone.”

Chris Chung, president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), was among the night’s speakers. Foreign direct investment (FDI) remains a high strategic priority for the state, he said. “One-third of the big recruitment projects we chase at any given time come from abroad,” said Chung, who commended regional leaders for their support of N.C. Southeast. The two organizations work closely together in handing recruitment opportunities in the region. “Our partnership has worked very well over the last 15 months, and we look forward to continuing working with The Southeastern Partnership in that regard,” Chung added.

David Fountain, president of Duke Energy-North Carolina, recalled the difficult and dangerous days following Hurricane Matthew’s assault on Southeastern North Carolina last October. The company moved quickly to craft an emergency power solution at Lumberton’s Southeast Regional Medical Center, which even lost back-up generator capacity. “We joined with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to move every resource at our disposal to Lumberton,” Fountain said.

 Fountain also discussed Duke’s strategic priorities, which include keeping energy affordable for the state’s businesses and residents. “North Carolina electric rates are 24 percent lower than the national average,” he said. The Charlotte-based utility is working aggressively to keep up with growing demand brought on by the state’s rapid population growth. It is a major investor in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, for example, which will open industrial, commercial and residential development opportunities for Southeastern North Carolina.

Steve Yost, president of The Southeastern Partnership, spoke of the region’s excellent leadership. “When companies see a region where public and private sector leaders are on the same page, it gives them the confidence to make multi-million dollar site selection decisions,” Yost said. “A lot of places have great sites and infrastructure, but it’s all that plus our people that really sets North Carolina’s Southeast apart.”