Economic development strategic plan gets makeover

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Wilson’s economic development strategic plan is getting a significant makeover that trims it from 22 pages to two.

“This is just a draft, so I’m seeking your input on it, but what we tried to do is really pair it down and make it more general so we could keep people’s attention on it,” Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer Lantz told members of the council during its annual retreat Tuesday morning.

Blueprint 2025 provides a colorful snapshot with local statistics — such as average weekly wage for Wilson compared to other counties in the state — and how recruiting one high-tech job creates an additional five jobs, so the 700 new jobs recruited in 2017-18 created 1,269 additional jobs.

The front-and-back colorful page also spells out the organization’s mission, vision and guiding principle.

“Even though we’ve had one all along, we have never put our guiding principle in words,” Lantz said. “That principle is turning community vision into action and I think that is where the economic development council has excelled in the last 30 years. People come up with ideas and we figure out how to make those a reality, which speaks directly to our slogan of ‘Vision in motion.’”

The document also lists three objectives — providing $2 in new tax revenue for every $1 invested into the economic development council, promoting a successful business environment and attracting 5,000 direct and indirect jobs that pay a living wage — as well as actions to accomplish those objectives.

“One of the things we might need to add is a description of why we do what we do and who it helps in relation to the number of jobs created and the average weekly wage,” Lantz said.

The draft includes the local poverty rate and how it has changed through the years, but board members urged it to be substituted for other information like the county’s top non-governmental employers.

“It usually blows people away when they come into our community and see a list of employers like that,” said City Manager Grant Goings. “It is atypical, especially in rural eastern North Carolina, to have so many impressive companies for a community our size.”

Lantz said she wants to add something about the county’s infrastructure assets.

“It is Greenlight, it is the roads and the utilities underground and everything,” she said. “Wilson is built for industry and truly has industrial infrastructure throughout the community. That is one of the top three reasons companies look at Wilson.”

Once Lantz’s staff makes the changes, the council likely will vote on the strategic plan in June and enact it in July. She said it will be a good resource to promote economic development in Wilson whether distributed to local civic clubs, site consultants or industrial clients.

Whirligig Weddings

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is taking center stage on May 21 as local lovers are invited to the inaugural Whirligig Wedding Showcase. The event from 6-8 p.m. will feature local wedding vendors including Bill Hamilton Designs, Advantage Rentals, Brewmasters, Junco Pine Arts, Tate Design, Jennifer Porcaro, Wildflour’s Cakes and Confections, Rose Hill and live music from Smashed Cardinals.

Magnolia Grove Weddings owner Meagan Graddy is working with the Whirligig Park events committee to create a mock wedding reception showcasing the unique setting the park provides to couples on their big day. Visit www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org/wedding/ for more information.

Extra! Extra!

Bella Pella Medical Spa has selected Linda Parrish for a month’s worth of spa treatments including a massage, facial, laser hair removal, skin tightening treatments, nails, hair and makeup. Parrish’s husband Craig nominated her as part of the spa’s Mother’s Day contest.

Parrish also will receive a number of gift cards from several Wilson businesses. She will be recognized during the business’s grand opening celebration dubbed “Burgers, Brews and Botox” following the ribbon-cutting on the night of May 28. Everyone is invited from 3:30-7 p.m. to congratulate Parrish, register for prizes and more.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.