A Year in Review: Achieving Success in Local Economic Development

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GREENVILLE, North Carolina – The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance is proud to announce a successful year in economic development. As a newer organization, 2021 was our first full year of operation which came with many achievements and accomplishments. Overall, it’s been a strong 12 months for economic development in Greenville, Pitt County, and eastern North Carolina. As we look back on the past year, there is a lot to celebrate.

January 2021:

January 5: The new year started off strong for economic development in North Carolina as the state receives a prestigious award. Business Facilities, a leading source of intelligence for corporate site selection, expansion, relocation, and area economic development solutions, names North Carolina as its 2020 State of the Year. This is the first time North Carolina has earned Business Facilities’ top honor, which has been bestowed annually by the magazine since 2007.

“North Carolina has been a rising star on our radar for several years,” said Business Facilities editor-in-chief Jack Rogers. “The successful execution of a regional economic development strategy targeting a diverse group of growth sectors in North Carolina is reflected in the proliferation of top-ten results for NC in our state rankings.”

January 11: The Greenville ENC Alliance unveiled a new brand and website. We teamed up with Greenville-based marketing agency Red Shark Digital, a bronze level investor, to design and create its new website. Our website can be viewed via desktop or mobile and is equipped with responsive framework, sitemapping, wire framing, and interactive capabilities. It also features content with detailed information pertaining to the benefits of doing business in the Greenville region. This includes details on location, infrastructure, workforce, taxes, incentives, and quality of life for the targeted industries of advanced manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and medical device and supplies manufacturing.

“This dynamic website will serve as a complete resource to companies looking to develop and expand business in Greenville, Pitt County, and eastern North Carolina. It will also serve as a resource for existing companies that are looking to retain their businesses and operations in our area,” said director of marketing and communications, Maria Satira.

February 2021:

February 23: New research by a nationwide apartment listing service finds that Greenville, North Carolina is the trendiest city in the nation for Gen-Z renters. RENTCafé sourced research based on rental applications processed by RentGrow. Greenville places first in the ranking, having seen the sharpest spike in apartment applications submitted by this generation in 2020. Research by RENTCafé shows an 84% increase, adding that Greenville has established itself as a great community to live in and to launch a career.

"This small town of less than 100,000 residents, the only college town in this ranking, has established itself as a great community to live in and to launch a career," said RENTCafe researcher, Sanziana Bona.

March 2021:

March 8:  

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, the Greenville ENC Alliance is highlighting women in the field of economic development. Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development, shared perspective with several news outlets on the pathways of women interested in economic development and economic growth. Over the years, more women have entered the field as economic developers working for private groups, public organizations, municipalities, and companies.

“Economic Development is slowly changing with the rest of the workplace. This has predominantly been a male dominated field, but over my 14 years in the industry, I have seen a greater presence of women and more leadership roles held by women. Many organizations are creating opportunities that focus on the development of women in economic development and showcasing their achievements. I am now more positive than ever before that economic development will continue to grow in its diversity and inclusion,” said Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance.

April 2021:

April 1: The Greenville ENC Alliance relocated its office from Cotanche Street to the East Carolina University Office for Research, Economic Development, and Engagement. This new space, located at 209 East Fifth Street, allows our team to better collaborative with ECU researchers who study economic development and regional growth. We are thrilled to have this office rental opportunity and have enjoyed working closely with ECU staff members and leadership.

“We’re really excited to remain in the uptown area where we are able to take advantage of the restaurants that are walkable on a lunch break and to meet folks that are already here,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “It lets us work closely with these city and county resources who are there for us in terms of meetings and other needs. That’s really important to us as an office space.”

April 28: The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance was selected as a Gold Medalist for website designs in the Towns & Municipalities category from the 19th Annual Horizon Interactive Awards. As a leading international interactive media awards competition, the Horizon Interactive Awards highlight the “best of the best” in interactive media production around the world. The 2020 Horizon Interactive Awards competition saw over 600 entries from around the world including 34 states and 15 countries. An international panel of judges, consisting of industry professionals with diverse backgrounds evaluated over 50 categories

“We are thrilled that our website is recognized on an international level in the category of towns and municipalities,” said Greenville ENC Alliance director of marketing and communications Maria Satira. “Through our work with Red Shark Digital, we focused on creating content on our website that shares important and detailed information pertaining to our targeted industries and the benefits of doing business in the Greenville, North Carolina area.”

May 2021:

May 9-15: The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance and the City of Greenville celebrated National Economic Development Week from Sunday, May 9 to Saturday, May 15, 2021. Greenville joined cities nationwide to increase awareness of the positive work economic developers do to enhance local economic impact. Celebrations included informative presentations, profiles on local economic developers, an engaging social media campaign, and public awareness efforts.

“Economic development is vital to the prosperity of our community, and the City Council and I celebrate the work of our local economic development professionals not just during National Economic Development Week, but every week,” said Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly. “We will continue to make efforts to establish policies that enhance economic development and contribute to the sustained success of our city.”

June 2021:

June 10: Area Development, a publication that covers site selection and facility planning nationwide, awarded North Carolina the 2021 Gold Shovel award for the 8 to 12 million population category. A 2020 project in Pitt County is one of several North Carolina projects noted for great success in terms of new job creation and capital investment.

“Among the projects contributing to North Carolina’s Gold Shovel award is the $500 million expansion of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Greenville that will create some 500 new jobs,” said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. “While 2020’s COVID-19 crisis put many projects on ‘pause,’ our Annual Shovel awards recognize the states and local economic development agencies that still managed to garner large job-creating and investment projects despite this unprecedented crisis through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, and other processes that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities.”

July 2021:

July 1: The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance welcomed new members to its board of directors and new executive board leadership. Tom Kulikowski, president of Penco Products, Inc. became chairman. The organization’s outgoing chairman, Michael Overton, was an instrumental resource to help establish the organization and raise funds. Greg Steele with TowneBank of Greenville will assume the role of vice chairman. Ray Ulmer with Hyster-Yale Group will remain as treasurer and J. Drake Brinkley, Esq. of Ward and Smith, P.A. will remain as secretary.

“This team is focused on filling the pipeline with qualified business leads, working closely with existing industries to grow their businesses, acquiring land and developing sites, supporting municipal economic development efforts, strengthening our region’s brand profile, and growing our member base,” said Chairman Tom Kulikowski.

July 30: North Carolina Department of Commerce leaders toured assets in Greenville and Pitt County during a special visit. Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders and Chief Deputy Secretary Jordan Whichard, along with their team and other government leaders, were hosted by the Greenville ENC Alliance. The Guests of Honor included:

  • North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sander
  • North Carolina Department of Commerce Chief Deputy Secretary Jordan Whichard
  • North Carolina State Representative Brian Farkas, District 9 (Pitt County)
  • North Carolina State Senator Don Davis, District 5 (Pitt and Greene Counties)

“This visit provided us with an opportunity to highlight the many benefits of doing business in Greenville as the city serves as the thriving hub and economic engine of eastern North Carolina,” said Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development. “We look forward to working with the Department of Commerce in the future as we continue to grow Greenville and eastern North Carolina.”

August 2021:

August 31: A state-of-the-art innovation campus being developed in North Carolina will be the first of its kind nationwide. Leasing for Intersect East, a public-private partnership between East Carolina University and Elliott Sidewalk Communities, has begun as construction is expected to start by the end of 2021. The unprecedented campus will utilize historic buildings and warehouse space on 19 acres at the corner of Evans and Tenth Streets in downtown Greenville.

“Greenville has incredible assets. There is a university that’s 30,000 students strong, a medical research institution, several pharmaceutical corporations, a regional airport, abundant access to waterways, not to mention plenty of room to grow,” said developer Tim Elliott. “Intersect East will be the development project that brings all of these economic assets together in harmony.”

September 2021:

Sept. 14: New investment and more jobs are on the way to Pitt County after Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, announces plans to expand its Greenville site for enhanced sterile liquid and lyophilized filling, pre-filled syringes, and solid dose continuous manufacturing. The investment of $154 million will help to create 290 additional jobs. The average wage of the new positions is projected to be $67,397, which is more than 50 percent higher than Pitt County’s average wage of $42,801.

“We are thrilled that Thermo Fisher has, again, chosen to invest in our community. This is further proof that the Greenville and Pitt County area has the resources needed to support the pharmaceutical manufacturing and biotechnology industry,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “Our organization is proud to be part of the team that helped land the project.”

October 2021:

Oct. 26: The largest job fair of its kind in eastern North Carolina, co-sponsored by the Greenville ENC Alliance, took place in Greenville. The ‘Better Skills, Better Jobs’ job fair, which served over 600 career seekers, helped to address workforce development needs in Pitt County and surrounding areas. Pitt Community College (PCC) partnered with the John M. Belk Endowment, Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance, and Pitt County Economic Development to host the event at the Greenville Convention Center. Adult job seekers and high school students met with over 90 employers and vendors to learn more about current job openings and educational opportunities.

“Many job seekers may not realize that there are not only good paying jobs in our area, but great careers available right in their own backyard,” said David Horn, director of investor and community relations for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “This event showcases more employers and education resource opportunities in one place than ever before to help job seekers make the most of their next career move.”

November 2021:

Nov. 1: North Carolina has been named as the state with the Best Business Climate for 2021, according to Site Selection’s annual rankings. Over the years, the Tar Heel State has frequently appeared in the upper tier of state business climates ever since enjoying a six-year run in the top spot from 2005 through 2010. In a survey published with the rankings, workforce skills repeated this year as the most important criteria to site selector consultants for the sixth year in a row, with transportation infrastructure as second. Workforce development, ease of permitting and regulatory procedures, and utility cost and reliability rounded out the top five criteria.

“North Carolina consistently ranks high on our list of top business climates, tying for first place with Georgia in 2020 for example,” says Mark Arend, Editor in Chief of Site Selection. “But it claims first place by itself this year with the blend of location ingredients required by capital investors in key industry sectors.”

Nov. 11: East Carolina University held a ribbon cutting for the brand new Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building. This incredible space will serve not only as a resource for ECU but also for the community and industry partners. It will be home to the new Eastern Region Pharma Center, which is working with five regional community colleges and 15 pharmaceutical companies to promote workforce development to meet industry demand. The $90 million building, located at the corner of 10th and Evans streets, was funded through the $2 billion Connect NC Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2016.

“With better coordination across the BioPharma Crescent counties, all of the partners — including industry, community colleges and ECU — will be more effective at recruiting students into lucrative, rewarding careers in the pharmaceutical industry, not to mention retaining our talent in the region. This is truly a ‘grow local’ approach to provide the workforce our industry partners need to thrive here," said Dr. Harry Ploehn, Dean of ECU's College of Engineering and Technology.

Nov. 16: A section U.S. 264 in eastern North Carolina, including Greenville and Pitt County, received federal approval to become Interstate 587 after the North Carolina Department of Transportation made several improvements. The new interstate runs between I-95/I-795 in Wilson County to N.C. 11/U.S. 264 interchange in Greenville, totaling 37 miles across Wilson, Greene and Pitt counties. The I-587 designation, which is many years in the making, will make travel easier and should bolster the area’s economic development prospects.

“I’m beyond pleased that after 50-plus years without interstate connectivity to Greene and Pitt counties, the day has finally come for us to announce the official addition of I-587 to the United States Interstate Highway program,” said Thomas Taft, Jr., who represents this Greenville area for the N.C. Board of Transportation. “Through the incredible efforts of our DOT staff in Divisions 2 and 4, alongside state leadership, Eastern North Carolina can proudly show its new shield to the world.”

December 2021:

Dec. 13: The Eastern North Carolina Food Commercialization Center (ENCFCC) is on its way to becoming a reality after securing recent funding from local and state sources. The North Carolina General Assembly designated $4 million to the proposed 24,000 square-foot commercialization center located in the Town of Ayden. The ENCFCC will provide essential food processing services for farmers, food manufacturers, and entrepreneurs in a seven-county region. A kick-off event was held in the Town of Ayden to celebrate the achievement.

“Building on our area’s agricultural roots, the center will provide added processing opportunities that are unique and innovative,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance. “We look forward to seeing the launch of food product companies as a result of the center and its resources.”


The Greenville ENC Alliance looks forward to a bright and prosperous 2022 for economic development in Greenville and Pitt County. To learn more about economic development in Eastern North Carolina and the mission of our organization, click here.

Media Relations Contact:

Maria Satira
Director of Marketing and Communications
Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance