Economic Development Focus in 2024

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Economic Development Focus in 2024

Stephen Barrington, Director, shares our focus for economic development in Harnett County in 2024. Learn more about the team's approach and plans to welcome and support new and expanding companies in Harnett County.

“Economic development” is a term used by varied actors, often describing a sub-component, or referencing an indirect, supportive activity. Broad examples may include: downtown (re)development or revitalization; developing talent - a workforce - to support the demands of business and industry; the construction of new roads or infrastructure extensions to support new opportunities; commercial lending services available; etc.

Given how broad economic development can be, we (Harnett County Economic Development) will be reformatting our quarterly newsletter - the Economic Development Quarterly - to more directly share where and how we are spending our time.

We aim to create and encourage an environment that is business-friendly for new and expanding companies, start-ups, and those who invest in development. Moreover, we are focused on identifying and developing places, across Harnett County, that will be home to new and expanding companies in our community. Companies that provide good, quality jobs with above average wages. We fully anticipate our efforts to spur increased private sector investment.

A Marathon Without a Finish Line

There is no end or finish line in economic development. Communities are constantly evolving and shifting priorities as a result. Our team is planful and intentional in our ongoing “learning” activities. We will incorporate learning lessons, as appropriate, to further our efforts to support and encourage growth in Harnett County.

A Process

Media often picks up on new companies coming to town or existing companies that are expanding within a community. Why not? This is exciting news, especially if quality, good paying jobs are part of the win. However, announcements or groundbreaking events are a culmination of many small and necessary steps that have resulted in a win. It must be stated that winners and losers who compete for new and expanding projects, perform a similar process of effort. Thus, whether a community wins a project or not, there is a trail of steps in which competing communities accomplish.

A Team Sport

There will never be any successes we have that will be uniquely ours. Never. Any and all successes will be shared.

Charles Hayes, a former Executive Director of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, coined a term, Triple Helix. Charles equated business, education, and government as a three-legged stool, all needed to accomplish outcomes for a community. He continued by saying that if any of the three-legs were missing, outcomes would not be achieved as fully, or at all.

Three Buckets of Activity

Harnett County Economic Development team members are spending the vast majority of our time in three areas:

1) Existing Business and Industry: Investing time to get to know and support existing companies directly, and or through partner referrals, is foundational to economic development. This will continue to be an activity in which we are engaged.

2) Product Development: For the foreseeable future, this will be a leading activity in which we are focused. In this blog, we will separately speak to what we mean when we say, product development.

3) Business Attraction and Recruitment: We will be embarking on a campaign to showcase Harnett County and our available product. Regional, state, and national players with whom we plan to target include but are not limited to: Commercial Realtors and industrial brokers, state economic developers, utility allies that court new and expanding companies, corporate real estate professionals, and national site selection consultants that currently or plan to do business in North Carolina, Southeast US, and or the east coast.

We will also encourage start-ups and transformational community projects, and we are able to connect resource partners with entrepreneurs and project organizers. Lastly, we intentionally keep up with what other communities across the region are doing, and how we stack up from a competitive standpoint. Ultimately, the market will tell us exactly how we stack up.

Be sure to keep up to date on economic development progress by visiting our website and subscribing to our quarterly newsletter. Questions? Please reach out to our team.

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