ELIZABETHTOWN — The board of directors of The Southeastern Partnership has approved a strategic marketing plan that will guide the regional economic development organization’s work during the coming three years. The nine-page strategy outlines direct marketing, product development, research and technology activities, collaborative engagement, regional advocacy and more.
“The plan is pretty specific about what we need to do,” says Chuck Horne, a Southeastern Partnership board member who chaired the 15-member committee that drafted the plan.
Like the previous plan, the strategy quantifies results the board is seeking from now through mid-2020:
— Encourage the arrival of 18 or more new companies to the region;
— Support the creation of at least 1,080 new jobs; and
— Attract at least $540 million in private capital investment.
“We set some lofty but attainable goals,” says Horne, an Anson County businessman. “The Southeast Region has had great success over the last three years, and we want to build on that.”
Since launching its first three-year plan in 2014, the organization has expanded its membership to include a total of 18 counties. Most recently, Craven, Lenoir and Moore counties have joined the partnership, expanding its marketing region. Its inventory of economic assets has similarly grown. Today, the region’s workforce numbers nearly 750,000, its highway network encompasses seven interstates, and its geography includes all of North Carolina’s major military bases.
“We’ve increased our scale during the last three years, and that means there are more assets to market and more partners we can collaborate and share resources with,” explains Jeff Etheridge, chairman of The Southeastern Partnership. “It also means expectations are higher. This strategic marketing plan reflects all these new realities.”
The Southeast’s new plan calls on the organization and its partners to bring at least 270 qualified business leads into region’s orbit, generate 126 unique visits to the region by clients and make 1,080 recommendations for possible sites and buildings. It 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 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. The organization 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.
“Collaboration is engrained in all our programs and all our planning,” says Steve Yost, president of The Southeastern Partnership. The 2017-2020 strategy, for example, calls on the region to work more closely with its growing healthcare sector to identify opportunities for synergy. “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,” says Yost. “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.”
The Southeastern Partnership’s new plan builds on the success of its 2014-2017 strategy, which helped result in 18 company locations in the region along with 3,644 new jobs and $838 million in capital investment.
A public-private partnership headquartered in Elizabethtown, The Southeastern Partnership links business leaders with county governments in seeking to “provide strong economic development leadership in southeastern North Carolina through innovative marketing and collaborative regional initiatives that will support the creation of new jobs, generate capital investment and secure new business locations.” Member counties include Anson, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Hoke, Lenoir, Montgomery, New Hanover, Moore, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.
For additional information, visit www.ncse.org.