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Quintiles Martin County native helped sway site selection

By By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
WILLIAMSTON— Becky Edwards has never forgotten where home is.
Upon returning to Martin County on Monday afternoon, she received quite the homecoming gift — and a taste of a hero’s welcome — when Quintiles Transnational Corporation opened the doors of its data-entry center in Williamston.
Edwards has worked at the pharmaceutical-services company’s Durham headquarters for quite some time, commuting from her home in Williamston each week. When increased demand for clinical-data entry caused company leaders to look at opening a branch office, Edwards had a hand in getting them to consider Martin County.
The data-entry operation is tucked inside a former strip mall on East Boulevard in Williamston, taking up 10,000 square feet of the Northeast Technology and Business Center. The N.C. TeleCenter is part of the same complex, offering high-speed Internet access to potential suitors.
Data from clinical trials will be entered at the Williamston facility. Most of the information will be related to safety and efficiency of potential medicines and will be used to help regulatory agencies decide if a drug is ready to be approved for marketing.
The company will have 24 people employed in Williamston in the next two weeks and 60 employed there within two years, Stafford said. “We think we might get to 60 ahead of schedule,” she said, drawing applause from the crowd.
State Secretary of Commerce Jim Fain heralded Quintiles’ “commitment to providing opportunities here in eastern North Carolina.”
Dennis Gillings, the founder of Quintiles, said the company’s decision to come to Williamston indicates “ a mark of the times for rural North Carolina.”
Golden LEAF, the nonprofit organization that targets grants toward tobacco-dependent counties, has contributed money for the company’s start-up costs. Money from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and the One North Carolina fund, an incentives package used to woo businesses, has also been contributed to Quintiles’ Williamston operation.
Monday’s event was a better chapter for a county recently hit with layoffs at Weyerhaeuser — the county’s largest employer — along with those from McMurray Fabrics in Jamesville and Caraustol packaging company in Robersonville.
Just days ago, Raleigh-based Microcell Corporation announced plans to bring more jobs to Martin County. The company specializes in “fuel-cell technology for electric vehicles,” among other things, according to its Web site.
Commissioners’ Chairman Tommy Bowen was caught up in the excitement Monday. “I feel like a little boy at Christmas,” he said. “This is something we needed so bad.”
opens Williamston branch