07/02/07 — Alliance president takes on state role

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Alliance president takes on state role

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 2, 2007 1:46 PM

With her election in June to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Economic Developers Association, Wayne County Development Alliance President Joanna Thompson is hoping her new position will allow her to better advocate for local needs.

"The NCEDA sort of sets the tone for various legislative issues," she said. "I think it's important to have someone from a rural county on these state boards because sometimes we feel left out of the decision-making process."

Often, she continued, the needs of and the opportunities in rural counties differ from those in more urban areas and can sometimes be overlooked.

Of particular interest, she explained, is making sure rural counties, especially those considered in the lower economic tiers, continue to receive assistance from the state in the form of grants and tax credits to help attract major industries.

"I think we need to continue to make sure there's a level playing field between the rural areas and the urban areas of the state," she said. "And as a rural person on the board I'll be able to work toward doing that."

Ms. Thompson, who has worked on economic development in Wayne County for 14 years, has spent the last eight as part of the 500-member association.

Now, as one of 13 directors and officers, she will work with the N.C. Department of Commerce and the General Assembly to help set the tone for business investment and economic development throughout the state.

She also sees her new position as helping Wayne County, not only through better representation on the state level, but also through an increased visibility.

"I think it's important anytime we have an opportunity to represent Wayne County at a state level, we take advantage of that. It allow us to have our voice heard," Thompson said. "It's a state board, but the interests definitely trickle down to the local level. This will keep us in touch and keep us right on the edge of new information."