Sep 282012

By Wesley Brown

Friday, September 28, 2012


A strategic alliance formed between 10 Pitt County organizations plans to finalize an agreement today to hire a consulting firm to study the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of achieving sustained economic growth in Greenville.

Commonly referred to as “SWOT,” the analysis will cost $22,000, take four months to complete and produce a “powerful document” that will identify the city’s infrastructure gaps and measure its readiness and ability to attract jobs, local leaders said during a specially called roundtable discussion at City Hall this week.

While contract negotiations are pending city approval, nine Pitt County organizations have committed $20,000 to hire InSite, an economic development firm based in Greer, S.C., to lead the study.

The list includes East Carolina University, Greenville Utilities Commission, Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce, Pitt Community College, Pitt County Development Commission, Suddenlink, Uptown Greenville and Vidant Health Systems.

“I’m not sure we are going to like what they are going to report,” Tony Cannon, general manager of GUC, said. “But this is a crucial first step that will determine what the future holds for Greenville.”

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas anticipates a deal to be set with InSite as soon as the city’s lead economic development officer, Carl Rees, returns from a business tip in Atlanta.

Although the alliance has a loose affiliation, it is in the process of agreeing on a name (possibly the Pitt County Economic Development Alliance), designing a letterhead and making Rees its project manager.

“If we promote unity, we can blow this community away,” Susanne Sartelle, president of the chamber, said.

Unity has been the main inspiration for the alliance’s formation and its SWOT analysis.

Fresh off a trip to Greenville, S.C., the group hopes to draft a 30-year master plan similar to the one used by its sister city to spur downtown revitalization through the creation of public-private partnerships.

“There’s going to be some heavy lifting when we get this report back,” Cannon said. “The whole idea, though, is to keep everyone at the table and move forward together.”

Sartelle said the chamber received seven proposals and interviewed four economic development specialists before choosing InSite to conduct the SWOT analysis, because the firm was “head and shoulders above the rest.”

With more than 2,000 successful site assignments in North America, Europe and Africa, InSite has negotiated more than $2 billion in incentives for clients locating facilities around the world, its website stated.

Thomas found the company’s credentials to be encouraging, but said city and county leaders cannot rely on it alone to deliver growth.

“We have to fight for jobs,” Thomas said. “They don’t just fall out of the sky.”

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.


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