Business leaders urge Nash County board to stay with partnership


Staff Writer

Monday, April 1, 2019

Business owners and executives are asking the Nash County Board of Commissioners not to leave the Carolinas Gateway Partnership.

The commissioners will discuss the possibility during their regularly-scheduled meeting set for 9 a.m. this morning.

Commissioners are encouraged to keep the regional approach to economic development represented by the partnership in a letter signed by 28 area business operators and obtained Sunday by the Telegram.

"You have been a very valuable partner to this point and we believe your continued participation in the partnership will only further strengthen the work being done and our potential to grow rural North Carolina — including Nash and Edgecombe counties," the letter states.

The letter is signed by Bill Boddie of Boddie Noell Enterprises; Don Stallings of Eagle Transport; Rob Barnhill of Barnhill Contracting; Billy Wooten of Kanban Industries; David Combs of The Combs Co. Century 21; Sterrett Lloyd of Draka Elevator; Helen Laughery, private investor; David Ferris, presient of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce; Lige Daughtridge of Daughtridge Sales; Tom Betts, private investor; and more.

The letter calls individual counties working on economic development a step backwards from current region efforts.

The letter states Nash County has received almost $1 billion in investment over the past two decades, "that must give you a very impressive return on your investment."

Partnership President Norris Tolson also sent a letter to the commissioners back in mid-March asking them not to pull out of the partnership.

Tolson said the partnership has been working hard for Nash County over the past 22 years and he'd like to see it continue to do so.

Tolson told the Telegram on Sunday that he hadn't received a reply from the commissioners.

State Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland recently stated in Rocky Mount that the partnership is great example of governing bodies working together to promote a region.

"You are to be congragulated for working together," Copeland said. "It's working. Keep it up."

The commissioners are set to decide this morning whether to stay with the Partnership or take on economic development as a county department.

The county's reasons for leaving the partnership, outlined in Saturday's edition of the Telegram, are summarized as Nash County's last five years of industry growth has been from the expansion of existing industry, not newly attracted businesses; and only 15 new jobs a year for the past five years have been created; among others reasons.

Since the county has invested in a retail economic developer, adding a focus on large business and industry would be a logical next step, according to information from county staff.

The Nash board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. in the Frederick B. Cooper Commissioners Room on the third floor of the Claude Mayo Jr. Administration Building at 120 West Washington St. in downtown Nashville.