There are many changes occurring, even as you read this, in reference to the way the North Carolina Department of Commerce handles economic development and more specifically, business recruitment. Recently, Gov. Pat McCory signed legislation that created a new private/public partnership which will handle all business recruitment in North Carolina.
Some in our community might want to know why this matters or is important to them. It is important to Scotland County residents because how the North Carolina Department of Commerce and its new private/public partnership (NC Partnership for Prosperity) operate has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) in keeping the pipeline of new projects flowing.
The new NC Partnership for Prosperity will now be the central agency that we work with in order to bring new projects and companies to Scotland County. Most companies and consultants in the past would contact the State of North Carolina first as they began the site selection process. They did this because it allowed for that central point of contact that helped to minimize the effort of trying to contact the 100 counties in North Carolina. This old model was more reactive while the new Partnership for Prosperity plans to be more proactive in their recruiting efforts. The new model should allow for representatives to target companies in the United States and internationally in order to work to bring them to North Carolina.
Organizations are impacted by budgets and how much money they have to operate. The SCEDC is no different. We have a very limited budget in which to operate and we must rely heavily on partners such as the NC Department of Commerce as well as local partners in order to achieve our mission to bring opportunities for jobs to all citizens of our community as well as new investment that helps to increase the tax base in Scotland County.
It is important to know that over the last five years, we have seen great success in recruiting new industry to Scotland County as we worked with the NC Department of Commerce. We have been able to announce over $133 million in new investment with an additional 400 jobs. There has been a new industry announcement each year with more new investment announced in the last five years than the previous twenty. Many economic development organizations in our state allocate very large amounts of money for economic development but see little to show for that investment in the way of new jobs and increased tax base, while the SCEDC can show a great return on investment.
The SCEDC will continue to look for ways to tackle the big problems or barriers in our community that prohibit new growth and jobs. We will identify those barriers utilizing data and by collaboration with all entities at the local, state and federal levels. We will strive for success in everything that we do and continue to focus on our mission.
This recent change at the North Carolina Department of Commerce has been in the process over the last year and the SCEDC has worked diligently to build relationships with all key officials so that when this new entity was created, we would be able to make a seamless transition with this organization. We invited the Secretary of Commerce, Sharon Decker, to visit Scotland County, which she did almost one year ago. We also met with the Assistant Secretary for Rural Development, Dr. Pat Mitchell, in Scotland County. In addition, we have met multiple times with the different departments at the state level that can have a positive impact on our efforts for Scotland County. We will continue to build new relationships and improve those already in existence with all of our partners in order to help companies Target Laurinburg and Scotland County.
Greg Icard is the Director of Economic Development for Scotland County and President of the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation.