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Harnett County launches new Public-Private Partnership for economic development

By Stephanie Meador, posted 1 year ago
Photo provided by Harnett County

Harnett County announced the launch of the Harnett County Economic Development Partnership, a public-private organization promoting living wage jobs and capital investment within the County and its municipalities.

This partnership brings together elected officials, business leaders, and educational stakeholders to strengthen talent attraction, workforce development efforts, product development, and other initiatives that will lead to the expansion and attraction of companies to the Harnett county area.

“We wanted to grow and diversify our local economy, and knew we needed the right organization to move that vision forward,” stated Chairman of the Harnett County Board of Commissioners Lewis Weatherspoon in a press release. “Our Commissioners understand that collaboration and partnerships are essential to strengthening our economic future. We believe we are on the right path to continue moving Harnett County forward.”

Christian Lockamy was hired in early January by Harnett County to help form the Partnership and to be the first President and CEO. 

According to Lockamy, these public-private organizations have replaced the standard County-led organizations within all of these counties. The advantages are that in addition to the public funding, local businesses and institutions fund the organization, creating a larger budget for marketing, developing sites and shell buildings, and engaging in talent growth and attraction programs to help grow and prepare the workforce. Additionally, these organizations have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for the purpose of owning and purchasing land for business parks, and fundraising.

“I’m grateful to be the first President and CEO of the Harnett County Economic Development Partnership. I have tremendous respect for our leadership, and appreciate their confidence and trust. We have an experienced staff, and are highly motivated to achieve results,” said Lockamy. 

The Partnership was identified in a 2021 economic development plan, “Strong Roots, Smart Growth”, authored by consulting firm, Rose and Associates and recommendations for establishing the new Partnership were constructed in a 2022 report by consultants, Sanford Holshouser. 

The new Board of Directors consists of Phyllis Godwin (Godwin Group) as the Chair, Jeff Whittington (First Federal Bank) as Vice-Chair, Jake Mays (Boon Edam) as Treasurer, Scott Nelson (Gould and Goodrich), and Harnett County Commissioners Lewis Weatherspoon and Brooks Matthews.

Educational leaders from Campbell University, Central Carolina Community College, and Harnett County Schools will join as ex-officio members in the coming months, and more business leaders will be elected following a capital campaign with Convergent Nonprofit Solutions.

Other staff members include Angie Stewart as Existing Industries Manager, Becky Parker as Office Coordinator, and a new Marketing Manager that will be hired around the end of this year.

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