Fayetteville publisher speaks at alumni event
By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 18, 2005 1:51 PM
By TURNER WALSTON
News-Argus Staff Writer
MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College kicked off its Alumni Weekend this morning with a breakfast at the Murphy Regional Center on campus. Charles Broadwell, publisher of The Fayetteville Observer, spoke on "Behind the Headlines" at the meeting of the Mount Olive College Business Associates organization.
Broadwell, 40, served as the Observer's editor and publisher before relinquishing his editorial duties this year.
As a young reporter, Broadwell covered Mount Olive and Duplin County for the News-Argus.
"This is kind of a homecoming talk for me," Broadwell told the gathering. "It's exciting to see the growth here in Mount Olive.
"I know not only how to spell Beautancus, but I think I could get us there if we had to go," he added.
Broadwell talked about transportation in the state, small-town issues, and economic development. He said exciting developments are taking place in eastern North Carolina.
Broadwell said increasing interest in cultural tourism has opened the doors for the region. The eastern part of the state has a long and storied history and it needs to take advantage of that history, Broadwell said.
"We have that here," he said. "That's a story that we should tell."
Broadwell referred to E.L. Doctorow's recently-published novel "The March," a dramatized telling of Gen. William Sherman's march to Atlanta during the Civil War. Books and movies about the period have shown that there is a tremendous amount of interest in the period.
"Fayetteville takes center stage in that novel, and Goldsboro does too," Broadwell said. Business leaders in the region should seek to capitalize on its history.
"We have a lot to share and I hope that we can do that better," Broadwell said.
He also described economic opportunities on the way.
"There are tremendous changes coming, and I think tremendous changes for the good for eastern North Carolina," Broadwell said.
The additions planned to Fort Bragg as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations "could be the biggest economic development story in North Carolina," Broadwell said.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Broadwell said, "every story of national or international importance, it seems we can find a line back to Fayetteville or Fort Bragg."
Broadwell called the BRAC additions to Bragg exciting. While the mission of nearby Pope Air Force Base will be reduced, the Army component of Joint Forces Command and Reserve Command will relocate from Fort McPherson, Ga. to Fort Bragg.
Broadwell said "about 12 generals and 20 stars" will come to Fort Bragg.
"They're telling me, in six to seven years, Fort Bragg will grow by 20,000 people," Broadwell said.
Broadwell said North Carolina residents are beginning to realize the importance of the military presence in the state.
"We don't have a bunch of industries to support them. This is our opportunity," he said.
Major defense contractors such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman could open offices or plants in Eastern North Carolina in coming years, Broadwell said.
"This is a region-wide impact that this is going to have," he said.
About five years ago, Broadwell said, he heard an economist ask an audience what the biggest economic development project in North Carolina was. The attendees thought it might be a development in Charlotte or the Research Triangle Park.
"It was a $250 million hospital being built a Fort Bragg," Broadwell said.
"I think North Carolina is waking up to what the military provides for us, and also how we can capitalize on that growth," he said.
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