Mid-East and EDC encourage townships

Published 9:40 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Mid-East Commission had one objective for teaming up with the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission for Tuesday’s meeting with local governing bodies.
The meeting at Beaufort County Community College was a reminder, if not an introduction, to all of the services Mid-East offers to local governments.
In his welcoming remarks, Commissioner Doug Mercer said Beaufort County’s governing bodies have worked well together over the years.
“The only conflict we have is that we’re changing and at the same time we’re being asked to do it with less and less,” he said.
The services available at Mid-East and the EDC can help with that bottom line, said Janet Dodge, finance director at Mid-East.
“We want to free up your people’s time. We may be able to help save you some time,” she said.
Mid-East covers everything from advocacy for the elderly to payroll processing for government bodies and businesses. Specialists help with grant proposals, prepare taxes, develop employee training programs and draft zoning maps.
“At some point in time, I have had the opportunity to work with every municipality and I have been pleased to do that,” said Bryant Buck, planning director at Mid-East.
They monitor rest homes, offer support groups for caregivers and relieve them of patient care for short errands or excursions.
“This meeting that Mid-East put on is very important for the future of Beaufort County,” said Bill Zachman, a member of the Committee of 100’s executive board.
Bob Heuts, executive director of the EDC, complimented the staff of Mid-East before presenting a list of what he saw as “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Beaufort County.
“I learned some things tonight. I think it’s a great staff,” he said.
Heuts began his list with the “ugly” so that he could end on a positive note. At the top of the list was Beaufort County’s consistently high unemployment rate.
“I think we’re getting better. But, we’re not going to get a lot better very fast,” Heuts said.
Also on the list were the loss of the North Carolina Rural Center and North Carolina Biofuels Center. The new state requirements for wind farms were a discouraging development. Heuts did not approve of putting companies through additional permitting.
Proposed legislation to reduce requirements for renewable energy was put on hold, but made Heuts’ bad list because he expected it to be introduced again next year.
The closing of Weir SPM was also on the bad list. Heuts counted the county as fortunate because the Weir building did not stay empty for long.
Beaufort County could count the sale of Quick Start II as a positive. The certification of Chocowinity’s industrial park was also a positive step.
The county’s graduation rates have improved significantly. Heuts was pleased with the career readiness programs Beaufort County Community College and Beaufort County Schools have supported.
“When we start thinking about what needs to happen here in Beaufort County, it’s all about partnerships and collectively supporting the knowledge bases,” Heuts said.
“And we need good leadership just like yourselves to make that happen.”