Region expands to include new industrial, military and recreational assets
“We’re pleased to welcome these three dynamic counties into the Southeast’s ranks,” says Partnership Chairman Jeff Etheridge. “With their entry into the region, we grow our critical mass of economic assets and amenities, and tap new sources of ideas, expertise and business leadership.”
The addition of Craven, Lenoir and Moore counties expands the Southeast Region from 15 to 18 counties. The move adds numerous high-quality industrial sites and parks, military assets, renowned tourism attractions, agricultural resources and workforce amenities.
Craven County is home to historic New Bern, North Carolina’s colonial capital, as well as Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East. Its business community includes major manufacturers such as BSH Home Appliance Corp., Moen Inc. and International Paper. New Bern’s Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN) offers regular commercial flights by Delta and American Airlines to major hubs. “We’re definitely excited,” says Timothy Downs, director of the Craven County Economic Development Department. The county’s manufacturing base is similar to that of the Southeast Region, and its defense installations complement nearby Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. “But it was the focus of the Southeast Partnership that got us interested,” he says. “They’re all about marketing and lead generation, and that’s what we need help with.”
Lenoir County is home to North Carolina’s Global TransPark, the 2,500-acre multi-modal industrial complex designed to meet the current and future needs of globally oriented companies. The county has a rich inventory of ready-to-go commerce sites and buildings. Its manufacturing base of 35 employers includes Sanderson Farms, Smithfield Foods, Electrolux, West Pharmaceutical, DuPont and Spirit AeroSystems. The sector employs more than 7,500 workers. “We’re eager to participate in The Southeast Partnership’s active calendar of trade shows and interact with their long list of consultant contacts,” says Mark Pope, executive director of the Lenoir County Economic Development Department. “We also hope to tap into the unique relationships they have with state economic development leaders,” Pope says.
Moore County, in the heart of the North Carolina Sandhills, has enjoyed double-digit population growth each decade since the 1980s. Communities like Pinehurst and Southern Pines have a global reputation for golf, equestrian sports and other outdoor recreation. Healthcare services currently dominate the local economy, employing about 30 percent of the county’s workforce. That will change as local leaders work toward economic diversification, as much as tripling its manufacturing sector. “We need to develop industrial product, and we‘re looking forward to the Southeast counseling us on that,” says Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress. Joining the Southeast Region will also support county efforts to sharpen business recruitment and marketing. “That’s their sweet spot,” Corso says. “The Southeast can touch all those bases for us, and we’re thrilled to be part of it.”
A public-private partnership headquartered in Elizabethtown, N.C., The Southeastern Partnership links business leaders with county governments in seeking to “provide strong economic development leadership in southeastern North Carolina through innovative marketing and collaborative regional initiatives that will support the creation of new jobs, generate capital investment and secure new business locations.” Member counties include Anson, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Hoke, Lenoir, Montgomery, New Hanover, Moore, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.