Spring 2016

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From the Director

Try to imagine for a moment: Mariners' Wharf in the summer without the Downtown Waterfront Market; the harbor itself without the slips that make us the Harbor of Hospitality; the pump house without its welcoming seaward-facing mural; and, just down Water Street, at the corner of Water and Main, the iconic City Wine Sellar space dark and empty. Now you can begin to appreciate what a force the Elizabeth City Committee of 100 has been in the preservation and revitalization of our downtown and waterfront. C100 is launching a membership drive that for the first time will include the option of a corporate membership. If you care about Elizabeth City, and you're not a member, you should join. No excuses.

In this issue, you'll also meet three of the dynamic new women on EC's downtown block - Carrie Hays and Talia Krites, winners of this year's Jump-Start contest (who'll shortly be opening The Flour Girls bakery and gourmet sandwich shop in the aforementioned City Wine Sellar space), and Christina Rehklau, new director of the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

And if it's March, it must be . . . Expo time! The Chamber Expo is a great way for local businesses to maximize their Expo-sure while enjoying a festive atmosphere that the Chamber somehow finds a way each year to make even better. Read on . . .

Wayne Harris
Director, ECPCEDC

Let Your Inner Super Hero Soar at the Business Expo, March 22-23

No one does business events quite like the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce. For its 25th Annual Business Expo and Job Fair, March 22-23, they are teaming up with The College of The Albemarle Small Business Center to engage the region's business community with the theme, "Honoring our Local Super Heroes," in appreciation of the Chamber's dedicated sponsors and members. 


The Expo kicks off March 22 from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. at the at K.E. White Center on the Elizabeth City State University Campus. The $25 ticketed event features over 60 booths and attractions, music by DJ-Taz, EC Photo Booth, City Beverage beers, wine, Pepsi products and the official Expo Chef Challenge and Expo Sweets Challenge. 


Attendees sample delectable foods and desserts from several local restaurants and bakeries, and then vote for their favorites with pennies and spare change. The money collected will be donated to the winner's favorite non-profit Chamber member seen at the Expo.


Networking continues at the same location March 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For $2, guests can take part in health screenings by Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, cooking demos and fitness tips fit for a Super Hero. 


The Non-Profit Hall of Justice will house numerous local non-profits so that they can share information on their missions and needs. Look for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Economic Development Commission's informational touch-screen community guide, featured in the Fairfield Inn booth. And, the Chamber will debut its new Chamber Cha-Ching card, a key fob that allows Chamber members to offer and/or accept great deals at area businesses.


Check in at the Chamber website for details, or call 252-335-4365.

Send Us Your Business News

The Elizabeth City | Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission wants to hear from you! For the purpose of establishing our EDC Social Media Business Information Network, the Commission is gathering regional business and economic development-related news to share with readers on our Facebook and Twitter sites, and in this quarterly Developments e-newsletter. We are seeking information that would be of interest to northeastern North Carolina's economic development stakeholders, municipalities, business owners, prospective businesses and employees.


We are interested in hearing about:

  • Business openings and expansions
  • Business workshops and seminars
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Grant announcements
  • Ground-breaking events
  • Major business announcements
  • Workforce development news
  • Special events with a focus on business
  • Items of interest that would appeal to those who follow local and regional business news

Please send your news for consideration in the EDC Social Media Business Information Network to kharris@ecpcedc.com.

The Flour Girls Win Jump-start Competition
Two local entrepreneurs, with plans to open a café-bakery this spring, are the winners of the Jump-Start Elizabeth City Downtown Business Plan Competition. Talia Krites and Carrie Hays (left and right in the photo) submitted the winning entry, detailing how they would open and operate the Flour Girls Café and Bakery, featuring designer cakes, fresh-baked pastries and breads and deli sandwiches. 

Having operated their own separate baking businesses (Hays owned Carrie Cakes in Shiloh and Krites operated the online Krites Cakes and Sweets), the Flour Girls are ready to roll. Their café-bakery will occupy a prime downtown spot at 102 Water Street, vacated several years ago by City Wine Sellar, a popular deli. Hays and Krites, who worked together at the former deli, said they have a good feeling about running their own business in the same location. 

"Our customers kept telling us, 'please open a restaurant where we can come and enjoy your food'," said Hays. "We've always loved the building, and the space is perfect for what we want our own business to be."  

Hays and Krites received a $5,000 cash prize to use for start-up capital, $3,500 worth of business services including a free advertising package in the Daily Advance newspaper, six months of free Internet service from InteliPort, a free one-year Chamber of Commerce membership, a free one-year Downtown Business & Professional Association membership and one set of business cards from MMT Printers.  

Now in its second year, the Jump-Start Downtown Business Plan Competition was open to entrepreneurs interested in opening or relocating their business in Elizabeth City's downtown before Nov. 18, 2016. Last year's winner and runner-up, Nestlerode Orthopedic Therapy and The Photography Company, moved into 4,700 square feet of formerly vacant downtown space, and both are going strong.The competition is sponsored by Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc., Elizabeth City Area Committee of 100 and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Economic Development Commission. 

C100 Campaign Kicks Off with New Corporate Membership Categories
Elizabeth City's Committee of 100 (C100) membership drive is underway, sporting a new brochure, easy-to-use online registration form, a revamped marketing effort and - for the first time ever - corporate membership categories. Now, multiple employees of a business can join and enjoy the benefits of a corporate membership at one affordable rate. 

"The C100 has long relied on the support of individual business leaders from within our community to help us in our goal to foster economic growth," said Russ Hull, chairman of the C100. "But as they retired or left their jobs, we didn't have ongoing representation from the company they worked for. The new corporate membership opportunity make it easy and affordable for multiple employees of a business to be a part of the C100." 

A private, non-profit organization that dates to 1981, the C100 works with Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County government leaders to enhance and help fund economic growth that requires private sector agility. Over the years, the committee has cultivated sustainable projects that have had a long-term economic value, including the development of Elizabeth City's Mariners' Wharf, the Downtown Waterfront Market, a blueprint for a downtown marina study and the Jump-Start Downtown Business Plan Competition. The C100 has advanced the area's business interests through marketing, communications and networking support and it hosts quarterly luncheons featuring presentations by experts on ground-breaking developments that affect economic growth in the region. 

Annual membership fees are $100 for an individual member, $250 for corporate members of up to three named members, and $500 for corporate members of up to six named members. Each named corporate member can attend the C!00 quarterly luncheons at member prices and have their business name, individual names, logo, website link and a brief description of their company featured on the C100 web pages. 
"Being a part of the C100 is a great way to stay informed, get involved and help attract new businesses to our area," said Hull. "It's important for businesses to support the C100, because the C100 supports businesses." 

Access the online membership application at www.ECACommitteeof100.com. For information, call 252-338-0169.

Meet Christina Rehklau, ECACVB Director
Last fall Christina Rehklau moved with her husband, dog and all the things that made up their "home sweet home" from Richmond, Va., to Elizabeth City, for her new job as director of the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Having worked as a research manager for the Virginia Tourism Corporation and a business development manager for meetNKY, a three-county convention and visitors bureau headquartered in Covington, Ky., she is ready to put her background to the test. Now that the moving boxes are emptied and all corners of Elizabeth City have been explored, Rehklau is ready to roll, as you will read in this Developments Q&A! 

What was your first impression of Elizabeth City?   

Quaint, but the city was larger than I expected when I researched it online. When I walked into the Arts of the Albemarle during First Friday ArtWalk, I was really impressed by the energy within the building and the quality of artwork displayed. I had a blast exploring the Museum of the Albemarle and was thrilled that a destination our size has this attraction. Growing up on a farm, I appreciate any museum that has an International Harvester tractor on display.  While there are some areas that are a work in progress as far as first impressions, there's a lot of interesting and good stuff here to work with.

What are the top three short- and long-term marketing goals you've set for Elizabeth City? 

Top Three Short-term Marketing Goals:  
  1. Ensuring we have a mobile device solution for our website. My goal is that by the time we reach the peak travel season, we'll have a responsive site in place. 
  2. Incorporating user-generated content into marketing. People trust peers more than advertising. This content offers visitors an authentic glimpse of a destination with a built-in endorsement. 
  3. Creating a visitor profile from research. This will allow us to understand our visitors better, gain more marketing insights and ensure we're spending our budget in the most efficient manner.
Top Three Long-term Marketing Goals:  
  1. Communicating the overall destination experience. I'm allocating more of our marketing budget to our larger story rather than focusing as much on individual events or attractions.  
  2. Creating itineraries targeted to interests. Often, things to do are shown in separate alphabetized lists. Itineraries make trip planning easier by tying similar experiences together.
  3. Taking a regional approach to marketing. In northern Kentucky, I experienced the benefits of regionalism. Visitors don't see political boundaries; they simply want interesting experiences.

How do you see tourism contributing to local economic development? 

Tourism is the first step of the local economic development process. Investors aren't typically going to invest into a community until they have visited at least once, which makes them visitors. Tourism builds awareness, familiarity and relationships that help in attracting investment. It's my goal to include tourism partners, local economic development partners and the community in the overall destination promotion plan. 

What can local businesses do to support tourism? 

Two things. Businesses can monitor their online presence. When visitors are considering a destination they perform online research. Online review websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are the visitors' first impression. Typically, I'm more inclined to visit businesses that are responding to customers' feedback. In my current role, I review these types of sites and find them to be a wealth of insight as to what's working and what needs to be improved in our community. 

Secondly, when visitors are here, there's an opportunity for the business community to help enhance their stay by cross promoting one another. Developing the habit of asking questions and making suggestions may entice visitors to stay longer and spend more.

What's your favorite local getaway spot? 

My husband and I have been working our way through the Historic Albemarle Tour. This has been a fun way to learn more about the area. Because we are new to the area, every trip is an adventure. We've also had some wonderful times on the Outer Banks including Jockey's Ridge and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Cosmo, our dog, is a big fan of the Outer Banks beaches.

For more Elizabeth City biz news and views, visit HarborofOpportunity.com.


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Headquartered in Elizabeth City, N.C., the Elizabeth City  |  Pasquotank County EDC markets business opportunities in the City of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County to prospective employers throughout the United States. It's location in the center of northeastern North Carolina makes the area ideally suited for business development, expansion and relocation. 

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


Elizabeth City | Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission | P.O. Box 70 | 405 East Main Street | Suite 4 | Elizabeth City | NC | 27909