29 years and counting for economic development group
By Junious Smith III / Staff writer
Kinston Free Press
Wednesday’s Lenoir Committee of 100 meeting celebrated the 29th year of the organization, as well as the impact it has made for the area.
According to the organization, the Committee of 100 has contributed approximately $1.5 million in economic projects in the county — as well as $500,000 in the past 10 years — for the economic growth in the community.
“I thought it was great meeting, and the committee was back on track,” President Tom Vermillion said. “I’ve always believed in Lenoir County. The group started in the mid-1980s, with a lot of folks excited about bringing growth and a lot of other things to Lenoir County. With the changes made on a state level, C100 is going to be more viable when it comes to finding important businesses and opportunities for Lenoir County.”
Mark Pope, Lenoir County economic development director, said the guest speaker and trip to Pactiv were both vital parts of the day. “We had a great speaker in (President and CEO of the N.C. Biotechnology Center) E. Norris Tolson, who is a true ally to eastern North Carolina and Lenoir County,” Pope said. “He had a great message about the future and moving in the agricultural field, which is important to us in the region and good for local folks to hear. It was also good to have the local leaders tour Pactiv, which has been here for 21 years with no layoffs and good salary wages.
“The partnerships established in the community college, public education and STEM East are very vital, as we continue to grow a skilled operation. It’s important to have industries and companies like this who provide jobs ranging from graphics, robotics and semi- to highly-skilled positions. The students need to understand this isn’t just a job, but is a career-oriented business.”
Lenoir County Commissioner Roland Best said he liked the information from the meeting, as well as the tour.
“I think the tour was great and the meeting exposed a lot of the amazing things we have in Kinston,” Best said. “The guest speaker brought great knowledge about biotechnology, how we can build the community and good information about economic development.”
Amanda Conner, an administrative assistant for Lenoir County economic development, will do the same job for the Committee of 100 after Anne Lindley resigned to spend more time with family. She said Tolson’s speech was very vital.
“He talked with the members about the changes occurring in biotechnology, as well as marketing,” Conner said. “He said ‘instead of focusing on what you don’t have, market what you do have.’”