Goldsboro and Mount Olive Committees of 100 will merge efforts
By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 15, 2005 1:55 PM
After decades of acting cooperatively but independently, Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Wayne County officially formed a unified effort to attract business and industrial investment to the county today.
At 11 a.m., members of the Goldsboro Committee of 100, Mount Olive Committee of 100, Wayne County Economic Development Commission and the county's Board of Commissioners placed signatures on a document to create a coordinated, county-wide economic organization to recruit and retain industries in the area.
Although the transition will not officially take place until July 1, Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said the cooperation culminates with the signing of the memorandum of understanding.
Smith and members of the Goldsboro and Mount Olive Committees of 100 spoke in advance of this morning's ceremony at a special press briefing to announce the historic agreement.
"The county is playing a greater role and the cooperation is there. This is a solid pact -- a promise -- we are going to work together and let businesses know we are their partner, and we will work with them," Smith said.
Goldsboro Committee of 100 President Charlie Gaylor said businesses interested in locating to the area can now look at Wayne County as a whole -- and that unified presentation will only make this area's economic development pitch stronger.
"We've kind of always done our own thing," Gaylor said. "The time has come for us to look beyond that and realize we are in the same county."
Jimmie Edmundson, Goldsboro Committee of 100 member, agreed.
"Now, we are all speaking with one voice when we are talking to a client," he said. "They will be talking to the entity that is going to be putting together their deal."
A fundraising effort known as Impact Wayne will combine public and private funding to assist the new organization in completing its goals for industrial and economic improvement.
Over the next five years, EDC president Joanna Thompson said Impact Wayne plans to receive $3.25 million from various public funds and private businesses.
To recruit and retain industries more efficiently throughout the county, Commissioner Jack Best said the organization would need funding to give the county an edge over others vying for the same industrial projects.
Best said money given through public and private sources could also help individuals and businesses. More industrial investment means more money to cover county bills -- and less need to increase business and residential tax rates.
"This would help the tax base. With more business, there would be more of a tax base. That allows less taxes for locals, and they don't have to pay as much," he said.
With the increasing presence of the internet as a factor in economic development, having a unified, strong voice is a distinct advantage, Mrs. Thompson said.
Most prospective industrial clients hire consultants to weed through the many possible locations for an expansion effort -- and then negotiate for the best package.
That means attracting new investment requires a whole lot of preparation -- and a good bit of being ready to react quickly to a request for information.
The communities that attract the most interest are often public-private partnerships where clients know they can reach decision-makers quickly and get the information they need in a timely manner, Lee Smith said.
Smith said economic development efforts in the past have always been well-managed and the cooperation between the groups a positive factor, but added that including the committees in the countywide effort is going to be a real plus as Wayne County officials reach out to potential business investors.
"They have always been committed to infrastructure development, but now they are going to be involved in recruitment and marketing," he said.
But that doesn't mean that every request from an industry that comes into Wayne County that is addressed professionally and thoroughly is going to mean an announcement of new jobs, officials said.
Fifty percent of the projects the EDC works on never materialize -- anywhere, Mrs. Thompson said. Economic factors as well as changing business climates and intense competition among like-communities can cause a decision to shift, or disappear entirely.
Sometimes what state officials can offer potential clients also affects the decisions.
Even with that success rate and the factors that can turn a decision, Mrs. Thompson said being in the game is important for the county's future.
"If you don't swing, you're not gonna get a hit," she said.
Once a public or private source commits to Impact Wayne, Best said that financial commitment would be needed for three years. Each public and private donor will be given an evaluation sheet, said Keith Gunnet, vice president of the Goldsboro Committee of 100. If they did not feel their money was well-spent, they could pull out of the agreement.
Although the fundraising effort is considered a five-year plan, Best said it could last much longer.
"It's meant to go on forever if it works, and we believe it will," he said.
In the coming years, Edmundson said the organization plans to use some of the money to market the county to industries throughout the nation and expand on the industries already here.
"We've got something to sell," said George Kornegay, member of the Mount Olive Committee of 100. "We've just got to market it."
Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue was expected to address the economic development future of the region during a keynote address scheduled for today's announcement and luncheon.
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