A group of individuals with a vested interest in Scotland County’s economic development will meet this morning under new direction.
Charles Jenkins, former interim chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, will take over as chairman of the group, whose members represent a number of organizations dedicated to improving the county’s economic forecast. Former county commissioner and Richmond Community College trustee Joyce McDow will be the vice-chair.
“Really what we’re attempting to do is bring together some of the major stakeholders and the organizations they represent and get them communicating with one another,” said Jenkins, who lives in Laurinburg. “That’s one of the most important goals of this group: to open communication between organizations in the county that have a keen interest in economic development.”
Members represent organizations including St. Andrews University, Scotland County Schools, RCC, Scotland Memorial Hospital, Scotland County JobLink, the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce, the Scotland County Economic Development Corporation, Galloway, the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, and the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority.
Today will mark the group’s fifth meeting since June, when it was started by Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker to establish lines of communication between those acting in the interests of Laurinburg and Scotland County.
“I think the end result is going to be an understanding by stakeholders in our county of their role in economic development,” said Parker. “There is no sacred turf, no one has anything that can’t be challenged, and we’re all working together for the common good citizens of the county.”
Ultimately the stakeholders will construct a framework for specific organizations’ involvement in economic progress.
“I can envision having an organizational chart that some entities are more involved on an everyday basis and some entities are there more for support and putting the whole package together,” Parker said. “I can foresee a document coming out of it that talks about the various entities we have that can assist in formulating ideas and in the use of assets for an industry or business that might decide to locate in Scotland County - a written and pictorial road map of how to navigate the county development-wise.”
The stakeholders have heard presentations from outside organizations, including a representative from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. However, they are still a few brainstorming sessions away from formulating a concrete course of action.
“We’re still very much in the developmental stage,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to be working very closely with [Scotland County Director of Economic Development] Greg Icard and his efforts in economic development, but we’ll be looking at other areas.”
Jenkins, who has taken part in the stakeholders’ discussions hitherto, said that any plans made by the group will likely place continued emphasis on industrial development, small business development, and quality of life in the county. He expects that the group’s work may be a long-term fixture in the county’s economic development scheme.
“One of the great values of this is the communication that can and will take place by bringing so many partners within the county together to try to talk about what we can do and how we can help one another,” said Jenkins.