12/26/06 — Alliance sets sights on 2007

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Alliance sets sights on 2007

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 26, 2006 1:47 PM

Only a year ago, business leaders and economic development groups planted the seeds of what would become the Wayne County Development Alliance.

The organization formed by the combining of the Wayne County Economic Development Commission, the Goldsboro Committee of 100 and the Mount Olive Committee of 100 is now looking to the future.

"We've taken those ideas (from previous organizations) and considered the best of what we had in the past and take the best of the new (ideas) for the future," Alliance President Joanna Thompson said.

During a November alliance board retreat, board members came up with goals that would help the alliance expand in 2007. At a December meeting, those ideas were turned into more specific aims regarding product development, workforce development, external marketing, internal marketing, staff development, and improving conditions for existing industries.

"We're not going to do anything extravagantly new or different, but we did look at the challenges and our goals," Ms. Thompson said. "It gave us a chance to show what we did accomplish and get excited about the new challenges facing us."

The challenge is to recruit industries into the county that provide residents with well-paying jobs while meeting the needs of existing industries to keep them viable, Alliance Chairman Gaylor said.

During their retreat, board members agreed to look beyond the alliance's two existing industrial sites and consider other potential sites.

"We want to identify sites based on what the clients want. We have to look at land and its possibilities through the eyes of the client," Ms. Thompson said.

"That vision evolves as new highways, flood ratings, rail access and other changes occur. There are all kinds of reasons why sites become more viable for economic development," Gaylor added.

In the next year, alliance members said they want to determine how best to market the existing sites while also examining the potential of other possible industrial sites, especially in the northern part of the county.

Ms. Thompson said the organization will focus on niche marketing in 2007.

"We want to identify target industry groups for the county. Some aren't applicable to Wayne County because of logistics or our sites or whatever it may be. We want some with the best potential for success," she said.

The alliance board agreed that the best way to meet that goal is to commission a target-industry analysis to determine the highest potential niche markets for Wayne.

Once those potential niche markets are identified, the alliance can turn to Wayne Community College and Mount Olive College for the training programs needed to support the businesses created, alliance members said.

"At Wayne Community College, the college tailors its programs to what the client needs. If we're in contact with a business, we find out the requirements for employment and they tailor their programs for that need," Gaylor said. "That's critical for those who want to start a business here."

Alliance members said they hope that by having a workforce analysis and skills assessment study done that concentrates on the military and underemployed components of the Wayne community, it will help develop a more skilled workforce.

Alliance leaders said creating and maintaining a positive image of the county is important to development goals. The board plans to completely redo its Web site and come up with a strategy to continue to receive financial support from private industries as well as municipalities and individuals.

"We try to find a way for businesses to come here and we do good at that," Gaylor said. "And preparation is what will keep it rolling."