North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2016

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10 North Carolina Economic Development Guide E lizabethtown is a community of about 3,600 people on the banks of the Cape Fear River, 50 or so miles upstream from Wilmington. On one recent day, about 30 local and state economic- development leaders gathered there to discuss helping many more communities. They brainstormed ways to market North Carolina to businesses, and their focus was trained on the state's southeastern corner. Members of North Carolina's Southeast — an economic- development partnership for 15 counties bordered by South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean — listened to the state's plans to recruit businesses, create jobs, increase international trade and attract tourists. In turn, they presented projects, outlined opportunities and raised local concerns. "A lot of economic development is based on relationships," says Steve Yost, president of North Carolina's Southeast and the meeting's organizer. "And a lot of good relationship-building took place. … There has to be a lot of trust between economic-development organizations on the state, regional and local levels for it to work as good as it should, and we're headed in that direction." Economic development is a unifi ed ef ort in North Carolina, from its capital, Raleigh, to its rural communities. Economic developers pool their resources to create solutions that ensure new and established companies are successful. That ef ort took a big step forward in fall 2014, when Cary-based Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Inc. opened its doors. Working under a state contract, the public-private partnership took over some N.C. Department of Commerce responsibilities, including marketing, economic development, international trade and tourism, fi lm and sports development. A slimmer Commerce still decides job-creation incentives and funding. Private and public money fund the partnership. Private donors had given about $800,000 as of February 2015, and the state dedicates about $17 million annually. Public funds to four regional economic-development commissions — the Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership, North Carolina's Eastern Region and the Northeast Commission — were halted under the restructuring. Three regional economic-development partnerships — Charlotte Regional Partnership, Research Triangle Regional Partnership and Piedmont Triad Partnership — also lost state funding. In Yost's region, for example, it's member counties now provide 40% of its funding, and private money makes up the balance. Statewide development Arm in arm Economic developers from Raleigh to rural regions cooperate, giving companies a hand to success. By Leah Hughes

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