As the City of Greenville, North Carolina continues to expand economically, the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance, a non-profit organization in the community, wants to see the community and East Carolina University expand and succeed.
President and CEO of the ENC Alliance Steve Weathers said the ENC Alliance was started as the Committee 100 in hopes of seeing more proactive business attraction in Greenville, North Carolina. The official launch of the ENC Alliance was in October, Weathers said.
“We're going to be focused on pharmaceuticals, on advanced manufacturing, which can be a variety of areas like marine related manufacturing and mostly food production and medical devices,” Weathers said. “You want to target industries where you have had success which we have had in all areas. We think we can have more added success.”
Weathers said he thinks the ENC Alliance is one of the best economic development teams in North Carolina. He said he and the staff have taken a lot of time to make sure they bring the best to the community of Greenville.
North Carolina is one of the best states for people to create businesses, according to Weathers. He said he thinks Greenville is a suited community for it is well-populated and attracts new and growing companies to the area.
“What I’ve found in communities that I've worked in is a lot of their success is dependent on their attitude and if a community is negative and has a negative attitude, you can feel that, you can see it, you hear it and that's that stuff I don't want,” Weathers said. “I don’t want to go into a room with a bunch of negative people. It's just depressing. When I came here (Greenville), people were very positive and pro-business.”
Brad Hufford, vice president of business development at ENC Alliance, said real estate companies and private consultants will contact and meet with the ENC Alliance to find the right location for them based on the location, proximity to highways, airports or the availability of certain public utilities such as electricity, water or sewage services.
These meetings would normally take place face-to-face, but due to COVID-19, they will now be held virtually, according to Hufford. He said he wants to find companies who are interested in growing and building a new location in the Greenville community within the next few years.
“We will also be doing marketing missions to a lot of these consultants that are located in certain cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas. We want to establish relationships with local and national site selection consultants,” Hufford said.
The new businesses and industries will be created and built on the outskirts of the City of Greenville because those businesses will be able to get the space and acreage they need to work hard and be successful, Hufford said. He said individuals won’t get the space they need if they are located in the city and many businesses prefer to be near a highway so it's easier to delivery trucks to get to their destinations itself with all the materials needed.
The ENC Alliance’s industrial area is past Vidant Medical Center, Hufford said. He said it is where Grady-White Boats Inc. is located along with Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific and other factories are located.
“When a company comes and locates in Greenville, say they've created 100 new jobs, well that's 100 opportunities for either local people to get those jobs or maybe upgrade their jobs,” Hufford said. “It's also an opportunity for 100 people to relocate, move their families here, buy a home and get involved with the community. Those investments bring new people to the City of Greenville. It could be called ‘the multiplier effect.’”
The businesses pay taxes that will be used to fund services in the community, like the police, fire departments, teachers and schools, including East Carolina University, Hufford said. He said the community of Greenville will benefit tremendously through these companies as well as future economic plans.
Hufford said the goal is for ECU to continue to grow and be the best university it can be. ECU will continue to look for partnerships that can provide opportunities for students to do hands-on learning and research, according to Hufford. He said this is why the ENC Alliance is beneficial to the revenue of the university, the student body along with faculty and staff.
ENC Alliance’s Chairman to the Board Michael Overton said a lot of people do not know much of the Greenville community or what it has to offer. He said he works with the rest of the ENC Alliance to communicate and recruit businesses to come to the county to start their industries and expand their operations. He also said he would like to see more ECU students stay in the community after graduation through the development of new jobs.
“We need to make sure that we're staying in touch with them (companies) and understand their needs, their wants and their challenges,” Overton said. “That's one part of the job and the other part is going out into the world and recruiting new opportunities that are lined up with our industry base that we already have here.”
Overton said he and the other strong and dedicated employees of the ENC Alliance have spent a lot of time and money on this organization. He said he feels confident that they can be successful and bring new industries along with more economic development. Overton said he is confident that the ENC Alliance can bring the community members of Greenville a better quality of life.
The ENC Alliance will try to recruit 2,700 new jobs within the next five years, according to Overton.