Elected, local government, and business leaders are critical to advancing economic development policies and projects. However, most of these leaders do not work day-to-day in economic development. It is important for EDOs to inform local leaders of trends, changes in policy, challenges, and opportunities. The recent Alamance Chamber Partners in Progress event is a good model on how to engage local leaders, keep them current on economic development, expose them to best practices from outside the immediate area, and give them a broader view of how the community’s efforts fit in to state and regional strategies.
David Putnam, Senior Director of Economic Development described the goal of the event as an opportunity to bring economic development stakeholders together to leverage shared assets, build relationships, and partner to improve the economic vibrancy of Alamance County.
The agenda was structured to both educate and listen. The event was kicked off with a welcome and overview from Chamber President & CEO Reagan Gural. She set the stage communicating the important purpose of the event. Next, Creative EDC staff delivered a presentation on the economic development process, competitiveness, and current trends. The labor shortage, remote work, increase in entrepreneurship, and the hot industrial real estate market were key takeaways.
The next part of the agenda focused on Alamance County’s partners in economic development, starting with Economic Development Partnership of NC Vice President for Marketing & Research Denise Desatnick who shared strategies and metrics for marketing North Carolina. Penny Whiteheart presented the role regions play in economic development. The presentations concluded with a panel discussion from local developers Marvin Price, Executive Vice President of the Greensboro Chamber, and Anna Murphy, Small Business Program Manager in Holly Springs. They shared perspectives on product development, business recruitment, and community capacity building. They specifically talked about the Toyota and Fujifilm megaprojects and the partnerships and collaborations that go into successful economic development projects.
After the presentations and a networking break, the attendees rotated through breakout sessions facilitated by allies of the chamber. The session topics were selected to round out a discussion of economic development strategies beyond business attraction and to make connections between the attendees and these allies.
- Entrepreneurship – Kaitlin Conover, Assistant Director, Launch Greensboro
- Education/Workforce – Bettina Akukwe, Apprenticeship Coordinator, and Louis Judge, Associate Vice President, Alamance Community College
- Industrial Recruitment – Loren Hill, Carolina Core Regional Economic Development Director
- Expansion and Retention – Tracy Dellinger, Existing Industry Expansions Manager, EDPNC
The event was attended by 49 elected, local government, business, and community leaders. David Putnam said economic development stakeholders have continued to meet and discuss prominent themes from the event such as economic development strategic planning, product development partnerships, rebooting the economic development committee, and expanding access to capital.
If your EDO has considered a workshop for local leaders on economic development, the Alamance Chamber Partners in Progress is a good model. Reach out to Penny Whiteheart or David Putnam for more insights.