APRIL 2013

From the Director

Notice anything different about this issue? The AEDC e-news has a fresh new look and name, Developments. That's a fitting title for an e-publication that focuses on the Elizabeth City area's economic development news, and we hope you like this redesigned platform and features. In this issue, read about Mayor Joe Peel's bold vision for Elizabeth City, as he and the Rev. Ernest Sutton build the foundation for Vision 2020, a community-based initiative to create new jobs and grow a stronger community by the year 2020. Are you familiar with the work of the Albemarle Area Committee of 100? Find out what they do, and how these local businesses support economic development in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County. And finally, if you want to know what makes a downtown successful, take a look at what will be the first in a savory series outlining "20 Ingredients of a Successful Downtown," courtesy of the Destination Development International. Happy reading. Oh, and if you like Developments, just wait. We've got a revamped website that's coming up next. Stay tuned! 

Why Vision 2020? 

A Q&A with Mayor Joe Peel 

As envisioned by Elizabeth City Mayor Joe Peel, the goal of the community-based Vision 2020 is to bring economic growth and jobs to the area by 2020. A strategic plan such as this is needed now, more than ever, said Peel, when AEDC's Developments spoke with him this month. 

What is Vision 2020? 

Vision 2020 is a community planning initiative aimed at job creation by improving our community's attractiveness to outside employers.

Why is this important for the Elizabeth City area? 

Vision 2020 is critically important because over 25 percent of our population is below the poverty level and our workforce is under trained. Research shows that a "good job" is the single most important factor in improving a family's health and education level and for reducing community crime levels. We also live in a global economy so competition for jobs has become much more intense. This strategic planning process is bringing together hundreds of citizens to identify areas we need to improve in order for us to become more competitive as a community. This community consensus will greatly enhance the sustainability of this effort over time.

What, ultimately, do you want Vision 2020 to accomplish?

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Vision 2020 will be for our community to realize we are one community. Either we will all be successful, or opportunity will continue to pass us by. Through consensus building, we already have identified five critical areas under economic development and four areas under community development. For these, we will set improvement goals and focus our resources. 



20 Ingredients of a Successful Downtown 

At the 2013 North Carolina Main Street Conference,  presented "The 20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Destination" to a group of downtown development directors, including the AEDC. We'll share the information with you a bit at a time in the next few issues of Developments.

They all begin with a plan. Bring together your partners and stakeholders, and work together so that everyone's efforts are towards common goals and a defined direction.

They define a strong brand and retail focus.Outstanding destinations have a strong brand and a successful, vibrant retail core. 

They orchestrated recruitment of "critical mass" of like businesses. This would include a minimum in three lineal blocks: 

They each have anchor tenants, making your destination worth a special trip. 

Lease agreements included defined operating hours and days. 70% of all consumer spending (both locals and visitors) takes place after 6:00 pm. Are you open?

AEDC Board of Commissioners

Board Members
Ms. Jean Baker
Mr. Wick Baker
Mr. David Cross
Mr. Jeff Dixon
Ms. Ann Hoffman: Secretary
Ms. Anita Hummer: Vice-Chairman
Mr. Lloyd Griffin, III: Chairman
Ms. Lena Hill-Lawrence
Mr. Cecil Perry

Ex-Officio Members
Mr. Charlie Bauman
Ms. Rebecca Cross
Capt. Donald Culkin
Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer
Dr. W. J. Gilchrist
Mayor Joe Peel
Ms. Kelly Thorsby
Ms. Charlotte Underwood
Mr. Linwood Williams
Captain Werner Winz 
Comes into View for Elizabeth City
Elizabeth City Waterfront

Last October, Elizabeth City Mayor Joe Peel invited area business, community and faith-based leaders to Christ Episcopal Church to talk about ways to grow the area's economy, create new jobs and build a stronger community in Elizabeth City by the year 2020. A little more than four months and four meetings later, Vision 2020 is coming into view.


"This is a critically important strategic planning process that is bringing together hundreds of citizens to identify areas we need to improve in order for us to become more competitive as a community," said Peel, who co-chairs Vision 2020 with the Rev. Ernest Sutton of Faithway Apostolic Church.


Since the first meeting, the Vision 2020 steering committee has since conducted a SWOT analysis of Elizabeth City's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; drafted a vision statement that positions Elizabeth City as the "Harbor of Opportunity," as well as the "Harbor of HospitalityŽ"; and identified nine critical success factors within the areas of economic development and community development to help the area thrive. These include


Economic Development Success Factors

  • Improving K-12 education
  • Enhancing the waterfront
  • Developing a more vibrant downtown
  • Improving the business/developer climate in the city and county by streamlining licensing and startup processes
  • Strengthening ties with and building ongoing, positive relationships with state leadership, the Port of Virginia and area economic development efforts

Community Development Success Factors

  • Championing the region's diversity and heritage by creating a dynamic partnership among all citizens
  • Improving and supporting strong family structures
  • Improving day care for infants and children through age 5 and Pre-K opportunities
  • Comprehensive job and entrepreneur training for youth

 At the March meeting, the co-chairs called for the formation of "action teams," to be represented by a broad spectrum of residents, for addressing each of the nine critical success factors. The teams, consisting of 10-12 people each, will be tasked with developing measurable goals and recommendations for what can be accomplished over the next five-to-seven years. 


"We're doing this to build a better future for our citizens, so we are involving a diverse cross section of people in the planning process," said Sutton. "If we can bring diversity to the table, there's no challenge we cannot overcome."


Vision 2020 will begin to present the findings of the action groups later this year. 

C100 Helps City, County Focus on Big Eco Dev Picture  

Should economic development be a joint venture between government and the private sector? One long-time group in Elizabeth City says, "Yes."


To enhance the work of the AEDC, the Albemarle Area Committee of 100 (known as the C100) was formed in 1976 to focus on private industry's support of economic development in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County. Through private contributions, the Committee provides funding for projects that enhance economic development activity; entertainment funds to host visiting prospects and development representatives; supplemental travel funds so the AEDC can attend industry trade conferences; and promotional funds to publish literature and advertising.


This is money well spent according to C100 Chairman David Cross, owner of David Cross Realty and an AEDC board director.   

"The C100 fills in the gap for underwriting special AEDC opportunities that city and county governments don't cover," said Cross. This is the reason for the committee's existence, and we consider economic development to be a wise investment."


Annual membership dues of $100 per business help drive the C100 budget, along with funds raised from a successful 2008 capital campaign. In the past, these funds have enabled the AEDC to attend conferences, such as last year's Unmanned Systems Conference hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and to develop and print collateral materials for marketing the Elizabeth City area as a business destination. Five years ago, the Committee was instrumental in launching the Downtown Waterfront Market as a way to support the region's farmers and food purveyors, while drawing residents and visitors to downtown Elizabeth City on the weekends.


In addition, the C100 hosts a popular business luncheon series, during which regional and state industry leaders speak to economic development topics pertinent to the Elizabeth City area. Among last year's speakers were Pender County School Superintendent Terri Cobb, who addressed how to turn around underperforming schools; NextGen Air Transportation Center Director Kyle T. Snyder, who spoke to the region's potential for drawing remotely piloted aircraft business; and Paradigm Development Group Director Al Chesson, who presented a case to show how historic tax credits can make a difference to developers wishing to revitalize Elizabeth City's historic downtown buildings.


"We're here when a marketing need arises that is not budgeted for the AEDC, so we can keep things moving," said Cross.


For information about membership, visit www.discoverec.com/committee100/

Mark Your Calendars for April 3!
The Center for Community Self-Help will address the next meeting of the Albemarle Area Committee of 100, or C100, on Wednesday, April 3 at 12 p.m. at Montero's Restaurant (414 N McArthur St., Elizabeth City, NC, 27909). This nonprofit combines several organizations that collectively provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream. These entities include: Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Self-Help Ventures Fund and the Center for Responsible Lending. Since Self-Help's founding in 1980, the organization has reached out particularly to female, low-income, low-wealth, rural and minority communities across North Carolina, Washington D.C., California and many other states. The cost for the luncheon is $10 for C100 members and $15 for non-members. Please register by emailing Kathy Harris at the AEDC at kharris@discoverec.com


Headquartered in Elizabeth City, the Albemarle Economic Development Commission markets business opportunities in the City of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County to prospective employers throughout the United States. 

For information, go to www.discoverEC.com or call at 1-888-338-1678 or (252) 338-0169.