EDC changes proposed

Published 7:52 pm Monday, June 3, 2013


After listening to a senior advisor to Gov. Pat McCrory, one local official still has concerns for the state’s economic development plans.

The Department of Commerce’s plan is to partner with private groups to form an economic development plan.

Bob Heuts, executive director of the Beaufort County Economic Development, said the plan would most likely cut funding for economic development, with the expectation that business and industry leaders would contribute.

“Anytime you do some kind of reorganization, everybody is trying to cut expenses,” he said. “It will change what the department of commerce will look like if everybody buys into this.”

Heuts joined business and government leaders in New Bern to learn more about the plan from Tony Almeida, senior advisor to McCrory. The meeting was arranged by NC-20, a partnership of local governments and businesses from 20 coastal counties, including Beaufort.

“There’s no right way or wrong way to do things. We’re just making sure that it’s fair,” Heuts said.

Almeida told the group that North Carolina experiences a higher unemployment rate, higher tax rate and higher personal tax rate, making it difficult for economic developers to recruit others to North Carolina. The proposed plan would change that.

Almeida stood in for scheduled guest speaker Secretary of Commerce Sharon Allred Decker, who had a death in the family. Heuts said Almeida was a great choice because he could explain the proposal in great detail.

“He actually wrote the white paper on how this department should be organized,” Heuts said. “There is still a concern that economic development will be focused more on the Piedmont Triad,” Heuts said. “At the same time, it was good to hear from the person who put this together.”

Heuts said it was encouraging to hear Almeida say the state’s economic development would be spread “like peanut butter” across the entire state.

“There are a lot of ways to do economic development. If the peanut butter gets spread, it will make it easier on counties east of 95 and west of 77 to get a fair share,” he said.

Heuts was a stand-in, too. County Planner Randell Woodruff is on the NC-20 Board of Directors, but was involved in budget workshops.

To learn more about NC-20, go to www.nc-20.com.