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Economic Development Group Releases New 3-year Plan

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Aug 7, 2017
North Carolina’s Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership seeks to support the creation of more than 1,000 jobs within its multiple-county region over the next three years.

That goal is one of many outlined in its new 2017-2020 Strategic Marketing Plan, which includes direct marketing, product development, research and technology activities, as well as collaborative engagement, regional advocacy, fundraising and other objectives for the group, according a news release from the partnership.

Headquartered in Elizabethtown, the Southeastern Partnership is a private-public regional economic development organization that works to market and generate business leads for an 18-county area, including the Wilmington micro-region of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.

North Carolina’s Southeast has a mission "to provide strong regional economic development leadership in southeastern North Carolina through innovative marketing and collaborative regional initiatives that will help support the creation of new jobs, generate capital investment and secure new business locations," according to the partnership.

The 2017-2020 strategic plan lays out three main economic growth goals through marketing strategies and engagement, including helping to cultivate 18 new companies, support the creation of at least 1,080 jobs and attract at least $540 million in private capital investment.

The Southeast’s new plan calls for the organization and its partners to bring at least 270 qualified business leads into the region’s orbit, generate 126 unique visits to the region by clients and make 1,080 recommendations for possible sites and buildings, according to the release.

Officials said the partnership will accomplish this through programs that include outreach to site-selection consultants, networking with industrial realtors, targeted email campaigns to businesses that are a good fit for the region and participation at industry trade shows and special events.

The new plan also breaks its county base into 4 micro-regions for a “more effective” and “customized” approach and includes Western, Central, Mid-North Carolina and Wilmington. The Southeast Partnership seeks within its over all plan to develop customized marketing strategies with those micro-regions, rather than a one-region approach.

In 2015, the partnership announced efforts in the tri-county Wilmington region to combine marketing efforts to bring new jobs to the region.

The Wilmington micro-region marketing initiative is “the most mature, the furthest along in terms of what its doing in target marketing in its area of three counties,” Yost said.

Marketing events and other strategies the partnership has helped bring forward has brought more attention from industries and companies to the area, he added. Each county supplies $20,000 annually to the partnership.

Chuck Horne, a Partnership Board Member who chaired the 15-member committee that drafted the strategic plan said in the release, “The Southeast Region has had great success over the last three years, and we want to build on that.”

Its previous three-year strategy helped bring 18 company locations, 3,644 new jobs and $838 million in capital investment.

Steve Yost, president of The Southeastern Partnership, said goals in the partnership's previous strategic plan were exceeded within the first two years, but the new goals in the 2017-2020 plan are actually higher than the previous plan's goals.

“It’s flexible. And we can make adjustments and modifications as we move forward in order to get results,” Yost said Monday.

Since launching its first three-year plan, the Southeastern Partnership’s county base has expanded to 18 counties and includes the recent additions of Craven, Lenoir and Moore counties. The entire region it covers has a workforce of nearly 750,000, encompasses a highway network of seven interstates and all of the state's major military bases.

The partnership will continue to play a visible advocacy role as the region improves economic infrastructure, creates shovel-ready industrial sites and buildings, and improves business amenities such as workforce development programs and project financing resources, according to the release.

The organization also intends to maintain its close collaborative links to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), the N.C. Department of Commerce, private allies, public partners and member counties, officials said.

“Collaboration is engrained in all our programs and all our planning,” Yost said in the release.

One portion of the 2017-2010 strategy calls for the region to work more closely with its growing healthcare sector to identify opportunities.

“Our excellent hospitals and healthcare networks are a formidable economic development asset for us in terms of what they mean to our region’s quality of life and economic growth,” Yost said in the release. “They are also a powerful job creation engine in their own right, and we should coordinate our respective visions in ways that integrate their presence into the region’s overall economic development landscape.”

Other business and industry sector focuses in the strategic plan include advanced textiles, distribution and logistics, food and beverage production, agribusiness, metalworking, energy, biotechnology, defense and aviation and aerospace.

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