05/10/04 — Wayne's economic developers earn high marks in survey

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Wayne's economic developers earn high marks in survey

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 10, 2004 2:01 PM

Wayne County's economic developers earned high marks in an independent review conducted this spring.

The Economic Development Commission was ranked as doing a good or outstanding job in nearly all areas of business recruitment, according to a survey by the Sanford Holshouser Business Development Group LLC of Raleigh.

The only "average" grade was for the recruitment of businesses that supply the military.

"If my kids brought home this kind of report card, I'd be relieved," Ernie Pearson of Sanford Holshouser told the EDC board last week. "I'd be giving them all kinds of rewards."

The survey was conducted as part of preparations of a long-range plan for EDC.

Pearson and Crystal Morphis, both managing partners of the consulting firm, guided EDC's retreat in January, where they met many of the local officials, businessmen and others. Their firm then did extensive interviews with both EDC members and others in the community.

Overall, the EDC directors and their three-person staff got excellent reviews, Pearson said. "This is a top-notch board, one of the most professional, business-oriented that I've ever seen."

EDC earned "A"s for administration and research, marketing, client services, site certification and its existing industries program.

"B"s were given to overall recruitment efforts, marketing targeted to certain industries, and "product development," which means assuring a good supply of industrial sites and buildings.

The only mediocre mark was for EDC's efforts to recruit business that cater primarily to the military, but Pearson said that these industries are not as concerned as being located near bases as one might think.

Sanford Holshouser presented the commission with a long-range plan that could be implemented over the next several years.

The goals include:

*Create at least one new industrial site each year, probably by working the committees of 100 or some other organization to secure land and make it available for development.

*Guide at least one site each year through the regional and state industrial-site certification processes.

*Develop an ongoing shell building program that would eliminate down-time after the county sells one.

*Add a new staff member who would work exclusively with existing industries.

*Recruit new members, which would be intended to keep the board energized.

*Improve EDC's marketing efforts within the county, including releasing more information on the commission's activities.