A Year in Review: Partnership and Collaboration in Local Economic Development

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As we look back on 2023, the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance celebrates a year of economic development success, partnership, and collaboration in Greenville, Pitt County, and eastern North Carolina. This included the launch of a five-year strategic plan, development of new partnerships, involvement in workforce development initiatives, and support of local industry growth through expansion projects. As we look back on the past year, there is a lot to celebrate.

January 2023:

January 9: North Carolina started off the new year celebrating a record-breaking 2022 in terms of job growth and capital investment. During 2022, there were 28,690 new jobs announced in North Carolina, representing 182 business recruitment, expansion or rural development projects that engaged with the North Carolina Department of Commerce or its team at the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.  These projects will bring $19.3 billion of capital investment into the state, marking new all-time highs for economic development performance.

“North Carolina continues to be the best place for people to live, learn, work and raise a family, and these economic development results show companies recognize our appeal as a business location,” said Governor Roy Cooper. "We're building a stronger economy that works for everyone and I am excited about North Carolina’s future."

February 2023:

February 27: After a two-day site visit and training workshop for Greenville ENC Alliance staff members, the Greenville MSA received the FDI-Qualified Community Certification. The prestigious designation comes from Navigator Consulting in cooperation with Transatlantic Business & Investment Council (TBIC). Through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), international companies bring billions of dollars each year in industrial projects to the United States and communities are eager to attract these types of economic development opportunities.

“In the course of our visit to Greenville, my colleague and I assessed critical location factors like workforce, education, logistics, local industry, and quality of life, for example. We came away impressed by the collaborative spirit of the local economic development team, the vibrancy of local industry, the professionalism of local officials, and the strength of local workforce development efforts,” explained Christopher Huppertz, managing director of TerraLogis Consulting in Berlin, Germany.

March 2023:

March 23: The Greenville ENC Alliance unveiled its five-year strategic plan during an annual reception for board members and investors on Thursday, March 23. This plan for Fiscal Years 2024 - 2028 outlines a path for Greenville - Pitt County to deepen its role as the gem of eastern North Carolina for economic growth and prosperity. The plan was led by a steering committee made up of business leaders and community stakeholders. The steering committee along with more than 100 business and economic development leaders, elected officials, and community stakeholders shared their input during group discussions, one-on-one meetings, interviews, and surveys.

“It was with great intention that we utilized this planning process to unite organizations and governments around a central set of priorities. While we have not identified each and every individual task or desired outcome, we have designed a fairly detailed roadmap for how we can work together to reach our intended destinations,” shared Greenville ENC Alliance president and CEO Josh Lewis. “For pathways that are maintained by partner organizations, it is the Greenville ENC Alliance’s commitment to support them in accomplishing these critical missions. For the goals that do not have a clear path, we intend to lead the effort of plotting a new course.”

March 27: The Greenville ENC Alliance was proud to serve as a co-sponsor of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce’s Grow Local Week, in partnership with Catalent, Pitt County Economic Development, and Pitt County Schools. The week-long initiative ran from March 27 to March 31, 2023. Grow Local is designed to create and unveil career interests, grow the talent pipeline, and connect local businesses to future employees. The program has matched 2,938 middle and high school students to participate in an on or off-campus experience, giving them the opportunity to learn more about all career opportunities available within their host business.

“As we work to support growth of a healthy workforce pipeline it is critical that kids in middle school and high school have an opportunity to see, feel, and hear about great future careers right here in their own backyard,” said David Horn, director of investor and community relations for the Greenville ENC Alliance. Horn has served as the co-chair for this year’s initiative and is passionate about workforce development to support the area’s current and future industries.

April 2023:

April 18: After several years of continued product innovation, broadening beverage categories, and growing consumer demands, Minges Bottling Group broke ground on a new state-of-the-art facility. Located on Pepsi Way in Ayden, the facility is expected to be 223,375 square feet and the company will hire an additional 23 employees to support the expansion project. The groundbreaking ceremony coincided with the company’s centennial celebration, marking 100 years in the beverage industry throughout eastern North Carolina.

“I am extremely proud that our family has stayed united and strong for 100 years,” said Jeff Minges, president and CEO of Minges Bottling Group. “We continue to build this legacy in the soft drink business, as we now transition into fourth-generation ownership and executive leadership. This new facility gives us the opportunity to continue to grow, while allowing us stay true to our mission of investing in the communities we serve in eastern North Carolina.”

May 2023:

May 8: The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance and Pitt County Economic Development are teaming up with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) to celebrate Economic Development Week from Monday, May 8 to Friday, May 12, 2023. The week-long programming won an international award from IEDC for Innovation in Economic Development Week.

“Economic development in Greenville – Pitt County requires deliberate and sustaining effort by many partners to maximize community potential and success,” said Josh Lewis, president and CEO of the Greenville ENC Alliance. “We are excited to celebrate collaborative economic development and the impact it has in supporting our local economy, creating jobs and career opportunities, and improving quality of life for all citizens.”

June 2023:

June 19: The Greenville ENC Alliance’s vice president of business development, Uconda Dunn, visited the United Kingdom as part of a 20-person delegation comprised of North Carolina government officials, university and community college leaders, and economic developers. The delegation will visit Liverpool, Manchester, and North Wales to learn more about how industries of the future such as electric vehicles, offshore wind, aerospace and more can contribute to economic development and increased trade and investment. Dunn also served on a four-member panel focused on workforce development.

“It is an honor to be asked to be a part of this North Carolina delegation to the United Kingdom,” shared Dunn. “I look forward to representing eastern North Carolina and sharing the story of our community and our emphasis on workforce development and industry alignment.”

July 2023:

July 1: The Greenville ENC Alliance welcomes new leadership for the 2023-2024 Fiscal Year. Drake Brinkley, a commercial real property attorney at Ward and Smith, P.A., is now chairman after serving on the executive committee as secretary and vice chair. In addition to Brinkley serving as chairman, other board officer positions are held by Aaron Driver as vice chair, Michael Gregory as treasurer, and Thomas Taft, Jr. as secretary. The full list of the 2023-24 Greenville ENC Alliance Board of Directors is available by clicking here.

"We are entering this fiscal year with an abundance of enthusiasm and momentum, bolstered by our recently completed five-year strategic plan," said Drake Brinkley, chairman of the Greenville ENC Alliance. "It is truly an honor to be at the helm of this exciting journey with such an outstanding team of professionals, a distinguished board of directors, and dedicated community partners."

July 5: With a need for organizational growth, the Greenville ENC Alliance moved office locations. The new office space includes 9 offices, a conference room, storage room, front waiting area, and kitchen. You can find us at 1021 W.H. Smith Blvd, Suite 100 in Greenville.

August 2023:

August 28: As the Greenville ENC Alliance works to support Greenville-Pitt County through economic development, two new staff members joined the team to fill new roles. The organization welcomed Narges Lahiji as a senior research analyst and Baylee Fox as a business development manager in August. Lahiji has an extensive professional and educational background in industry research and manufacturing. In her role at the Alliance, she will research and track community metrics and data as well as support special projects and reports. As an economic development professional with experience at state and regional levels, Fox will focus on our existing industry support activities as well as assist with small business efforts in the community.

September 2023:

September 14: The Greenville ENC Alliance welcomed Pitt County as a Sustaining Investor in the organization. Pitt County joins the City of Greenville and Greenville Utilities Commission at the Sustaining Investor level. The County’s previous contribution of $100,000 was increased to $150,000 for 2023-24 to support marketing and lead generation efforts led by the Greenville ENC Alliance. Over the past several years, Pitt County Economic Development and the Greenville ENC Alliance have worked closely together on business attraction and expansion projects as well as workforce development initiatives.

“Pitt County is pleased to strengthen its partnership with the Alliance,” says Janis Gallagher, Pitt County Manager. “This collaborative relationship is a direct result of the strong leadership, strategic plan, and work of the Alliance and recognition of the value that the County brings to the table, along with other community partners, and aligns our focus and efforts so that the citizens we serve receive the most efficient and effective economic development services. We are stronger together. The benefits of this alignment are already being realized and the potential to take economic development to the next level in Pitt County is immense.”

September 25: The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance received two 2023 Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). A Gold Award was bestowed specifically for the organization’s work in the Innovation in Economic Development Week (EDW) category for the 25,000 - 200,000 population size. A Silver Award in Special Purpose Website Category was given for the Alliance’s role in creating, launching, and maintaining the “Grow ENC” website. This online tool is a regional marketing collaboration for 10 counties in eastern North Carolina which features information for available sites and buildings, regional assets and infrastructure, and target industry resources.

“The Greenville ENC Alliance in partnership with The Overton Group and the counties of Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, and Onslow created the Grow ENC marketing campaign to showcase the benefits of doing business in the region,” explained Greenville ENC Alliance director of marketing and communications Maria Satira, who led efforts on website development and content creation. “This award-winning website will be a valuable tool for all counties in the region in terms of business attraction and retention.”

October 2023:

October 5: Better Skills, Better Jobs, the largest job fair of its kind in eastern North Carolina, returned for the third year to address workforce development needs in Pitt County and surrounding areas. Pitt Community College (PCC), John M. Belk Endowment, Greenville ENC Alliance, Pitt County Economic Development, Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, Inner Banks Media, and Koinonia Community Solutions co-hosted the event at the Greenville Convention Center. There were 1,130 career seekers who passed through the career fair, which included 354 high school students and 776 adults. They had the opportunity to meet with 124 employers and education resource vendors. Several employers held on-site interviews with some attendees leaving with a job offer on the same day. Community partners include East Carolina University, Pitt County Schools, Greenville Utilities, Tradesformers, NCWorks, and ECU Health.

“What makes this event so powerful is the unique bridge it offers between career pathways and career opportunities,” said David Horn, director of strategic partnerships for the Greenville ENC Alliance and co-chair of the Better Skills, Better Jobs fair. “It brings the region’s top employers plus the education and workforce resources to one location so those looking to advance or change their career can do that right now.”

October 23: Catalent Pharma Solutions, a full-service contract development and manufacturing company in Greenville that specializes in novel oral solid dosage forms and provides pharmaceutical development, analytical testing, and commercial manufacturing services, is expanding its operations and creating new jobs. Catalent, located in Indigreen Corporate Park, plans to create 20 new jobs while investing $2,915,000 to support a growth project as part of its Site Strategic Master Plan.

“Our existing industries provide a large impact for new job growth in our community. This project shows Catalent’s solid foundation in our community and their desire to make Greenville a community of distinction within their footprint,” said Greenville ENC Alliance vice president of business development Uconda Dunn, who assisted with the project. “We appreciate the company’s confidence in our workforce and training partners to decide to create new jobs and put new investment in Greenville.”

November 2023:

November 1: Greenville was named a top place to live in North Carolina by Livability.com. The article, featured on Livability Media’s website showcases several cities across the state. Greenville – described as the economic hub of eastern North Carolina – was noted as a “best city” in the state.

“It has a robust health care industry and is home to East Carolina University, which brings a dynamic energy to the city and fosters job opportunities in academia. The city of 90,000 is a cultural mecca, with live music, vibrant art, fun events and an incredible culinary scene in the Dickinson Avenue and Downtown Greenville districts. The city is surrounded by natural beauty with opportunities to explore parks, trails and the Tar River for activities like fishing, biking and kayaking. Greenville offers a balance between urban amenities and a more relaxed lifestyle, making the city a well-rounded place to live.”
- Livability.com

November 13: The Greenville ENC Alliance launched a new digital Q&A series on its website. There are many partners and organizations involved in successful economic development programs and initiatives. In this Economic Development and Leadership Q&A Series, the Greenville ENC Alliance is interviewing key stakeholders in the local, regional, and state level that play a role in business attraction, retention, and expansion, workforce development, talent attraction and retention, and community engagement.

December 2023:

December 14: The Greenville ENC Alliance supported a research study that examined the nonprofit arts and culture industry in Pitt County. Our economic development organization partnered with Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge, Greenville-Pitt County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Pitt County Economic Development on the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) research project. This economic and social impact study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and reported that Pitt County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $18,037,461 in economic activity in 2022.

“We are keenly aware of how quality of life and a community’s amenities factor heavily in the site selection process for companies as well as the job and location decisions of individuals which impact the financial health of localities and regions. For these reasons alone, communities and local governments should continuously invest to improve their quality and offerings,” said Josh Lewis, president and CEO of the Greenville ENC Alliance. “It should also be understood that arts and cultural amenities can come with their own positive economic and financial impacts. The Greenville ENC Alliance supports examining these impacts and increasing our understanding of the local economy. This type of data will help to tell the story of what our community gains from having such a robust presence of arts and culture.”


As a public-private partnership, the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance works to strengthen economic progress by bringing new capital investment and new well-paying jobs to our community. Through engaging with the public and private sectors, the 501(c)3 organization promotes Pitt County to domestic and international markets to attract new industry while retaining and expanding existing industry. The Greenville ENC Alliance, founded in 2019, strives to strengthen the region’s competitive position, facilitate investments that build capacity, generate prosperity, enhance economic vitality, and support the development of a qualified and capable workforce. Learn more about our efforts: www.encalliance.com