Explaining the basis for economic development is as simple as playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, said Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

The official definition of economic development is to increase the wealth of the community served, whether it is a city, county or state being served, Chung told the nearly 60 people attending Impact Wayne's annual investors meeting held Wednesday at the Maxwell Center.

Chung said he played the game a lot as a child.

"It's the one where you have the little plastic hippos and you try to gobble up those little white marbles," he said. "To me, that is really kind of what economic development is. Each of those hippos in my case represents a state.

"I am in charge of that hippo called North Carolina. And each of those marbles is some form of economic activity, some kind of money sitting outside of North Carolina today that I am trying to get coming into our state."

That is true whether the hippo represents a state, county or city, he said.

"You are trying to gather all of those marbles rolling around as you can because the more than you can gobble up, that is more money you are seeing flowing into your community from the outside," Chung said.

It is more economic development and more of an increase in wealth for the community being served, he said.

The partnership of North Carolina does that by focusing on five areas, he said.

They are business recruitment; taking care of the state's existing industries; international trade assistance; small business startup support; and promoting state tourism.

The partnership is not a state agency -- rather, it is a nonprofit that receives both public and private funding, Chung said.

The agency set up similar to the Wayne County Development Alliance that conducts the Impact Wayne fundraising campaign, he said.

The campaign is the outgrowth of 2009's strategic planning process that included a community assessment to determine the county's assets and challenges.

During the meeting, it was announced that the fundraising campaign is on pace to exceed its $1.1 million goal.

Thus far $1,611,250 have been pledged of which $522,000 has been collected, said Tiffany Creech, Development Alliance interim president.

"I think it speaks to wide investor support and the support that we have for our organization," Creech said.

Impact Wayne is in the midst of its second five-year strategic plan to implement an aggressive public and private economic development initiative in the county.

The campaign, which started in 2016, has approximately 75 investors.

Over the next five years, the campaign goals are $225,000 for business retention and expansion; $375,000 for business development and marketing; $375,000 for product development; and $125,000 for investor relations and development assistance program.

To date $471,440 has been spent on the initiatives, Creech said.