Archived Story

Commission proposes marketing strategy for rural counties

Published 9:48pm Friday, November 15, 2013

The privatization of North Carolina’s economic development could lead to new partnerships for Beaufort County. That’s the message Vann Rogerson, president of North Carolina’s Northeast Commission, shared with Beaufort County’s Economic Development Advisory Board.
“We will not be closing up and going away,’ I think is the message. It’s just how can we partner up and get our revenue up,” Rogerson said.
The Northeast commission is an economic development organization of 16 counties in the northeast region of the state. Up to this point, the organization had received $302,000 annually from the state for the marketing and promotion of the region. That funding ends July 2014.
When the Department of Commerce announced that it would no longer fund marketing efforts, Vann said large metropolitan areas took the news in stride. They turned to large private manufacturing companies headquartered in their county and formed private partnerships.
“The state said they were going to compete for private dollars. Urban areas said, ‘I don’t need you guys’ and left small counties in the cold,” Rogerson said. “We’ve met with tourism, county managers, economic developers … All of us in our separate meetings have begun talking. We’re going to need private dollars and you are going to drive the fundraising. Marketing and branding in the region paid by state dollars is gone.”
Because most rural counties are not a headquarter for large companies that could foot the bill, Rogerson said counties would need to look for areas with common assets and partner with them. Those partnerships could include marketing Beaufort County as a bedroom community for Pitt County. Other clusters might be agriculture or tourism.
For now, the counties are in limbo. Legislators have not approved the privatization of commerce and the specifics of the plan have not been determined.
“All the different sectors of government are still in the public sector and the only staff member they have is Pat Mitchell in charge of rural areas,” Rogerson said.
The NCNE will make a proposal to the state’s Department of Commerce to put in $2 for every $1 the state would contribute.
“But, we’re acting on the assumption that counties will be on their own,” he said.

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