03/03/05 — EDC sets priorities, explains retreat policy

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EDC sets priorities, explains retreat policy

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 3, 2005 1:49 PM

The Wayne County Economic Development Commission set priorities for the year at a meeting Wednesday.

Commission officials also attempted to set the record straight regarding the attendance of members of the Wayne County Board of Education at the annual EDC retreat.

Chuck Allen, a member of the commission and the Goldsboro City Council, said that a school board member had complained to him about being "uninvited" to the EDC's annual retreat.

Allen said the complaint surfaced during a recent meeting between the school board, the city council and the county commissioners.

"They (school board members) said that education didn't seem important to us since they were uninvited from the retreat," Allen said.

He said that some school board members said members of their board had attended the retreat in previous years.

Joanna Thompson, the president of the economic development commission, said that the topic had come up before, and that she had researched the attendance lists for the retreat over the last decade.

"The school board was never invited to the retreat, but the school superintendent, as its representative, has always been invited," Ms. Thompson said.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Taylor attended the EDC retreat held last month in..............

Ms. Thompson said that school board member Shirley Sims had, at one time, been under the impression that she had attended previous EDC retreats, but later realized it had been retreats held by the Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the Economic Development Commission also voted Wednesday on priorities for the coming year. Each of the specific priorities fall under a broader, long-range goal for the commission.

The priorities are as follows:

*Product Development: Develop a leadership team for future product development including northern Wayne County and shell buildings. The team will have both EDC and non-EDC members.

*Funding: Complete a long range funding plan for economic development efforts.

*Board Relations: Work with county commissioners to ensure quality leaderships for EDC member appointments.

*Staffing: Encourage staff participation in professional development opportunities.

*Internal marketing: Conduct annual briefings to all municipalities; investigate potential for a revised speaker's bureau; seek opportunities to partner with the Chamber of Commerce. Thompson said that two presentations, one with the chamber's leadership group and one with the ambassador group, have already been scheduled.

*External marketing: Expand marketing and recruitment program through increased direct and indirect contact.

*Military: Continue support of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and maintain active participation in the North Carolina Military Business Center.

*Existing business and industry: Hire new staff and begin implementation of a focused existing business and industry program.

Ms. Thompson said that an advertisement for the business and industry position would be placed in the local newspaper, as well as the Raleigh News & Observer. It will also be advertised in several trade publications.

"I don't have anyone in mind for this job," Ms. Thompson said. "But the job description is in-depth, and shows the seriousness of the position."

She said she expects the person hired to open up new markets in Wayne County and tackle issues that come up with existing industry.