North Carolina’s Eastern Region to Host Fifth Annual State of the Region

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On Wednesday, March 14th, business, community and government leaders will gather in New Bern for North Carolina’s Eastern Region’s annual meeting. The fifth State of the Region will take place at the Riverfront Convention Center (203 South Front Street, New Bern, NC 28563) with opening remarks beginning at 8:50 a.m. A complimentary continental breakfast will be served beginning at 8:00 a.m.

On Wednesday, March 14th, business, community and government leaders will gather in New Bern for North Carolina’s Eastern Region’s annual meeting. The fifth State of the Region will take place at the Riverfront Convention Center (203 South Front Street, New Bern, NC 28563) with opening remarks beginning at 8:50 a.m. A complimentary continental breakfast will be served beginning at 8:00 a.m. Guests should RSVP at www.nceast.org/eventregistration.

The keynote address will be given by Ted Abernathy, Executive Director of the Southern Growth Policies Board (SGPB). The SGPB is a 13 state, non-partisan, public policy think tank based in the Research Triangle Park focused on strengthening the South’s economy and creating the highest quality of life. The Board develops new regional strategies for economic development and identifies best practices to facilitate action. Mr. Abernathy, a native of N.C., earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, a Master’s from Johns Hopkins University, is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute, and is an Eisenhower Fellow for global economics. Addressing “Competing in the Changing South,” Mr. Abernathy brings a great deal of practical experience and expertise. He has served as Executive Director of the SGPB for 3 years; 32 years of his professional career has focused on economic development.

State and regional leaders will weigh in on a growing effort, STEM education. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education seeks to align the education system to meet the employment needs of local employers. Panelists include Ted Morris (Associate Vice Chancellor, ECU Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development), Steve Hill (Executive Director, STEM East), and Randy Collier (Health Careers Consultant, Vidant Health). Samuel Houston, Jr. (President & CEO, NC SM&T Education Center) will moderate the panel.

A second panel will focus on the thriving Life Sciences cluster in the region. Despite the sluggish economy, this sector has continued to flourish in recent years. Panel participants include: Ken Morris (Plant Manager West Pharmaceutical Services, Kinston), Phil Hodges (President, Metrics, Inc., Greenville), and Matt Neuman (Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Alyward Enterprises-USA, New Bern). The panel will be moderated by the Eastern Region NC Biotechnology Executive Director, Mark Phillips.

Additionally, NCER VP & Executive Director of the Military Growth Task Force (MGTF), Mark Sutherland will update guests on the Region’s Defense Logistics Initiative and the upcoming transition from the MGTF to PlanIt East. This will be followed by President & CEO of North Carolina’s Eastern Region, John Chaffee, who will deliver the State of the Region report.

“I always look forward to our State of the Region meetings; they: provide a platform for us to share information on many of the great things taking place in eastern North Carolina; give us an opportunity to thank all our wonderful partners; and allows us to take a little time to network with people from around the region and the state; we have some very exciting news to share this year,” said Chaffee. For a detailed agenda, please visit www.nceast.org/sor2011.          

North Carolina’s Eastern Region is a 13-county development commission established by the North Carolina General Assembly to promote economic growth in Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, Wayne, and Wilson counties. The region encompasses 7,000 square miles and approximately 1 million residents. For more information, visit www.nceast.org or via email, info@nceast.org.