Craven County to Dissolve Economic Development Commission

May 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

The Craven County Board of Commissioners moved to dissolve the county’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) on June 30, coinciding with the retirement of Jim Davis, the EDC’s director of 17 years.

The EDC was founded in 1975 to increase the competitiveness of Craven County to attract and retain industry. It is made up of nine members, with one county commissioner sitting as a voting member. The EDC is supported by a non-profit organization called the Committee of 100, which raises funds through fees, investments, contributions, and state grants, to further the economic development goals of the EDC.

Reactions to the decision appear to be mixed. County Manager Jack Veit said that the commissioners have already begun a strategic planning process, and that like many other counties, this will help establish an economic development strategy that is best suited to the county. Others seem less optimistic, saying that now is not the time for a reorganization– particularly when there seems to be little information about what this process will entail or which direction the county will take.

Either way, this could represent an opportunity to craft an economic development strategy that really prepares Craven County for a long-term, sustainable economic recovery with broadly shared benefits. The poverty rate of Craven County was 17.5 percent in 2010, and some areas of the county are experiencing concentrated poverty. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of residents receiving food stamps increased 117 percent.

The county should make sure to incorporate a wide range of stakeholders and community voices, particularly those that are struggling the most.  Business attraction and retention are important outcomes, but a robust economic development strategy would also include addressing the needs of and creating opportunity for the county’s workforce and residents.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development. Tags: .

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