The attached ‘Dashboard’ reports on our progress toward our goals, but a few highlights are:
1) We traveled around the US and across the Atlantic to attend trade shows, conventions and meet face-to-face with company executives considering expansions; currently working 45 active projects, had 10 company visits to the region in 2015 and developed 35 new projects since July 1, 2015. We expect even more visits in 2016.
2) Our staff met with dozens of local companies and discussed the value of WorkKeys and CRCs in helping them easily identify the right pool of applicants for their job openings, received over $500,000 in grant funds (thanks to the Duke Foundation) to deploy more STEM Learning Centers in eastern NC public school systems, and assisted several of our public school systems in obtaining another $493,405 in grants (mostly from Golden LEAF) to do the same.
3) We assumed responsibility for administering/directing a $1 million federal Rural Jobs Accelerator grant ($150,000 for the Alliance to use) for the development of the automotive and aerospace clusters in the region with a particular focus on assisting existing industries, small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), or recruiting companies to fill supply chain gaps.
4) Received $150,000 as part of a DOD grant to support our Food & Fuel for the Forces (FF4F) that assist farmers/foresters gain income by selling to area military installations as a component of the broader Sentinel Landscapes project and our own value-added agriculture cluster efforts
5) Convened meetings of communities across the east for the purpose of banding together to promote the creation of the ‘I-44 corridor’ from Raleigh to Norfolk (US64 and US17) to improve access and economic development opportunities. Through those efforts, media attention, and communication with our congressional delegation, bi-partisan federal legislation was introduced designating this highway as a future interstate corridor and attached to FAST – the new federal transportation bill signed this month by the President that also included designating the US 70 corridor from Raleigh to Morehead City as an interstate (I-42?).
6) Launched a rebuttal to an extremely negative editorial that ridiculed East Carolina University (and the entire UNC system) for its decision to move forward on the creation of a millennial campus and denigrated eastern NC in the process: resulted in a meeting of the writer and his organization’s editors with the leadership of the UNC system after being challenged to get their facts straight.
While many other important items were addressed by the Alliance, these provide a sense of the importance of our mission to serve our region. Please call us if you have any questions or suggestions in how we might further serve this region.