03/08/09 — Lt. Gov. helps kick off businesss expo in Duplin

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Lt. Gov. helps kick off businesss expo in Duplin

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 8, 2009 9:57 AM

KENANSVILLE -- The resilience of small business and a fighting spirit are going to get North Carolinians through the current tough times, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton told Duplin County leaders Friday afternoon .

Dalton helped kick off the Duplin County Business Expo at the Duplin Commons Events Center. The event, sponsored by the Duplin First Council, showcased more than 80 local businesses presenting their goods and services.

Most businesses in Duplin are small businesses, and they always carry the most weight, Dalton told the small gathering prior to the opening ceremony.

The challenges facing the business community are great, he said, with the nation in the grips of a $7 trillion trade deficit.

"A global economy is OK, but you've got to have fairness. We're dependent on foreign everything, folks. But we'll get through this. I heard that here today," said Dalton, referring to presentations by several sectors of the Duplin County economy.

Earl Brinkley, a retired entrepreneur who spent his career in international business logistics, told Dalton how Duplin has positioned itself to lead the rest of the Eastern Carolina Council by being the only member county that has its comprehensive transportation plan already in place, approved by citizens in public meetings, the county board of commissioners, the Rural Planning Organization and the Department of Transportation.

And location gives the county another edge, he said.

"We are 35 miles from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, where an additional 1,300 will be added over the next three years. We are only 58 miles to the Fort Bragg Army Base. Fort Bragg is to become the headquarters for the U.S. Army and will add 25,500 troops, dependents and Department of Defense personnel .... Please keep in mind that all of these new jobs and personnel are in addition to the normal forecasted growth of 4.7 percent," he said.

Business leader Jim Harris said Duplin has a diverse work force that has the ability to fill any job that comes along.

"We have a large agricultural base," Harris said. "We produce grapes, grain, poultry and swine. Duplin County supplies 9.5 percent of the world's pork and poultry supply."

Wayne Duplin Business and Professional Women's President Phil Harper said Duplin has a woman-friendly economic climate, and 27 percent of all the businesses Duplin are woman-owned.

"And in our organization, 45 percent of the members are business owners," she said.

Duplin General Hospital President Harvey Case told Dalton his hospital has recruited its first cardiologist and has a state of the art facility.

"All of our radiology is digital now," he said. "Although some people think you have to go to a big hospital to get excellent care, it's not true."

Dalton applauded the group for placing itself in a position for success. He said North Carolina's having one of the highest Medicare reimbursement rates is what is bringing in the specialists and better care to rural North Carolina hospitals.

"Agriculture is No. 1, and tourism is No. 2. You have the nucleus of everything that's going on," he said.

A lawyer and lay speaker in his local church, Dalton spent six terms in the state Senate.