Yost Remarks:The Virtues of Planning

Events in recent months have reminded me of how critical a good strategy can be.

Take four major announcements from the last few months: In October, multinational joint venture King Charles Industries unveiled exciting plans to produce specialty apparel in Anson and Montgomery counties. A few days later, Pepsi Bottling Ventures unveiled plans for a major mid-Atlantic distribution center in Robeson County that will employ 250. In December, Carbon Cycle Energy broke ground on a $100 million bio-gas facility in Duplin County. Poultry giant Mountaire Farms selected Scotland County the following month for what will become the nation’s largest grain mill.

The four projects correspond neatly with the target industry clusters the Southeast has focused on during the last three years: technical textiles, logistics and distribution, alternative energy and value-added agribusiness. The four clusters represent “low-hanging fruit” for our region, aligning our economic assets with the needs of leading companies in those industries.

There are other benefits to planning – changing tools and tactics also bring new opportunities. As our organization and its investors consider the strong results of the current strategic plan, which wraps up in June, a group of dedicated leaders from across the Southeast is working hard to craft a new plan that will guide us through July 2020. The group’s vision, which is sure to be ambitious, will be known in a few months.

A sound strategy can also help us overcome the unexpected, like when Hurricane Matthew cut a deadly path through Southeastern North Carolina last year. The storm had a silver lining, offering the region and its economic development community a chance to shine. Local, state and regional partners were quick to assist in minimizing business disruption. As an organization, the Southeastern Partnership worked with the Governor’s Recovery Task Force in identifying both short- and long-term solutions for getting impacted communities back up and running.

In the height of punishing winds and historic floodwaters, our region proved its resilience. It was a testimony to our planning and strong leadership, both assets that support our mission and sharpen the appeal of the region’s economy.