Pictured left to right: Gary Lanier, SEDC Chairman; Pamela Bostic, SEDC Executive Director; Mark Ward, SEDC Secretary/Treasurer; Olivia Collier, Director, ARC/SCRC, NC Department of Commerce; Hillary Sherman, NC EDR, Economic Development Administration; Chuck Heustess, SEDC Vice Chairman; and Al Leonard, Capital Projects Director, Town of Tabor City and Redevelopment Director, Fair Bluff Chamber of Commerce.

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong, kenarmphoto.com
The Southeastern Economic Development Commission held its 56th Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 14, at the Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery in Elizabethtown. The Commission’s membership is comprised of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Pender, New Hanover, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, and Scotland. Each County has four representatives to serve on the Board of Directors.
SEDC is the designated Economic Development District (EDD) and Local Development District (LDD) for southeastern North Carolina. The SEDC assists its member counties and other eligible applicants in applying for federal grant investments that help generate jobs, protect existing jobs, and stimulate economic growth. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) are the federal funding agencies.
Pamela Bostic, Executive Director of SEDC, welcomed board members and guests who included the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) N.C. Economic Development Representative (NC EDR) Hillary Sherman; Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) State Director Olivia Collier; representatives from the offices of Senator Ted Budd, Senator Thom Tillis, and Congressman David Rouzer; elected and local government officials from the twelve-member counties, and economic development allies from the region. Bostic emphasized that the success of the Commission would not be possible without the collaboration and partnership with its local member governments, federal representatives and funding agencies, and the many local and regional stakeholders.
Photos by Kenneth Armstrong, kenarmphoto.com
Opening remarks were provided by Chairman Mark Ward, and recorded remarks from Senator Ted Budd were shared with the attendees. Following lunch, an engaging and informative panel discussion was held instead of the traditional keynote speaker format. The panelists included Hillary Sherman, NC EDR, EDA; Olivia Collier, State Director, SCRC and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC); Chuck Heustess, Executive Director, Bladen County Economic Development Commission, and President, Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial; and Al Leonard, Tabor City Capital Projects Director, and Fair Bluff Chamber of Commerce Redevelopment Director. The moderator for the discussion was SEDC Chairman Mark Ward. Each panelist provided an overview of their respective funding program, expertise, and experience with the EDA and SCRC funding programs, or helpful grant writing tips. The panelists provided valuable insights and takeaways.
After the panel discussion, Mark Ward, SEDC Chairman, gave the board of directors’ report. Ward reported that the SEDC member counties, cities, and other eligible applicants have
received investments totaling more than $125.6 million involving 187 projects from the EDA made possible by the regional planning efforts led by SEDC. This fiscal year, $690,604 in EDA
grant funding was awarded to the Town of Elizabethtown for critical infrastructure improvements needed to support business and job growth in the region. The investment will be matched with $364,896 in local funds and is initially expected to create 50 jobs and generate $2.3 million in private investment. Chairman Ward reported that in June 2023 SEDC was invited to participate in the inaugural Local Development District (LDD) program for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission(SCRC) as allowed in the general provisions authorized by the U.S. Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill. After 56 years of service as a U.S. EDA Economic Development District, SEDC will also
serve as a Local Development District (LDD) for the SCRC and operate as a lead organization serving its twelve-county region at the local level. In addition to the regional planning efforts
and services provided as an EDA Economic Development District, SEDC will assist in identifying, assessing, and facilitating projects and programs to promote the economic development of the SCRC region and provide technical assistance, application support and review, and other services for entities positioning to apply for SCRC funding in the SEDC region. The SCRC’s mission is to build sustainable communities and promote economic development growth across its seven-state region which includes 57 counties in North Carolina and encompasses the twelve-member counties of the SEDC District. The SEDC Full Board elected the following officers for a one-year term for 2024 – 2025: Gary Lanier from Columbus County as Chairman; Chuck Heustess from Bladen County as Vice Chairman; and Mark Ward from Scotland County as Secretary-Treasurer. The SEDC Office is in Elizabethtown. For more information about SEDC, visit www.sedcnc.org.


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