Over 350 Gather at Annual State of the Region Event

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A group of partners gathered Thursday, May 14 in Greenville to hear from state and regional economic development leaders at the State of the Region. Hosted annually by the NCEast Alliance, this served as the first State of the Region held after the organization’s transition to a private non-profit organization and its merger with NC’s Northeast Alliance. NCEast now serves 1.3 million residents across its 26 affiliate counties.

A group of partners gathered Thursday, May 14 in Greenville to hear from state and regional economic development leaders at the State of the Region. Hosted annually by the NCEast Alliance, this served as the first State of the Region held after the organization’s transition to a private non-profit organization and its merger with NC’s Northeast Alliance. NCEast now serves 1.3 million residents across its 26 affiliate counties.

Alliance Chairman, J. Paul Buchanan, welcomed over 350 people, including elected officials, bankers, attorneys, manufacturers, educators, economic and workforce developers, as well as various service providers that attended the event. NCEast Alliance President & CEO, John D. Chaffee, provided a report on the state of the region, highlighted by a perspective on the region’s transformation over the past 10 years. A region that once relied heavily on textiles, apparel and tobacco, is now dominated by advanced manufacturing, life science, healthcare and still a sizeable value-added agriculture (food/beverage/forest products) sector.

The Alliance announced the re-launch of the Rural Jobs Accelerator (RJA) Grant which will help manufacturers create and retain jobs in the region by improving operational performance and growing their sales in the automotive and aerospace markets. The Alliance will assist local companies in their quest to connect with both domestic and international companies in these sectors. More information about the RJA grant is available here.

The event also marked a huge step forward for education in eastern NC. The Duke Energy Foundation presented a check for $500,000 to expand the STEM East public/private network throughout eastern North Carolina. The funds will allow STEM East to assist several county public school systems to prepare students for success as they enter a rapidly evolving workforce. More information about the Duke Energy Foundation grant is available here.

Also speaking at the event was Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of NC. Chung highlighted the 5 core functions of the partnership’s program of work, drawing attention to the relevance of working as a team to bring jobs and investment to NC.

“We are trying to grab as many jobs and as much investment as possible into NC,” said Chung. “Economic development has always been a team effort. It takes a concert of partners within the private sector…we are going to be working with groups like the NCEast Alliance as well as all of the local developers,” Chung added.

Presentations from the event can be found on the NCEast website. Video of the event will be available soon.

The Alliance also elected two new members to its board of directors at its regularly scheduled May meeting. Millie Chalk, District Manager Government and Community Relations for Duke Energy Progress and Terry Frank, Owner of Frank Door Company in Newport, NC were unanimously elected and will begin serving in June.

Ms. Chalk, an engineering graduate of NC State University, has spent more than 25 years with Duke Energy and has experienced a diverse career background in both the regulated and nonregulated utility business. She is responsible for implementing strategies and plans to enhance customer satisfaction through relationship management with key local government and community leaders. She is also responsible for philanthropic giving through The Duke Energy Foundation.

Frank Door is the leading manufacturer of standard and custom cold storage doors serving a variety of industries including food and beverage, life sciences and healthcare. Mr. Frank relocated from New York to Carteret County about a decade ago.  NCEast’s predecessor organization in partnership with the NC Department of Commerce, assisted the company with its relocation to eastern NC.

The NCEast Alliance is a regional, public/private, not-for-profit, economic development corporation serving 26 counties with approximately 1.2 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas in eastern North Carolina from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance provides community capacity building, marketing/lead generation, and assists companies with site location and expansion evaluations. For more information on the NCEast Alliance, visit us at www.nceast.org or visit one of our workforce development sites (www.ncworkready.org or www.stemeast.org).