Fall 2016

For Business Opportunities, Visit 

From the Director

As we put to bed our fall issue of Developments, I will tell you, it's been a busy quarter. In November, we kicked off our third Jump-Start downtown business competition, a project that has already launched three successful businesses in Elizabeth City and an excellent opportunity for start-ups to make their dream of business ownership a reality. Exciting new downtown business projects are in the works, including the renovation and development of the historic Southern Hotel into a boutique hotel, restaurant and conference space. In addition, plans for two brew-pubs (the first in our city!) are underway to occupy existing buildings in our downtown area. Our Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau relocated last month to the Museum of the Albemarle, a high-profile location for them and a draw for visitors seeking both travel info and a first-class history museum experience. Finally, meet Gordon Rowell, the new managing director of the Elizabeth City Regional Airport.
Read all about it, along a special feature on the NCEast Alliance. It's gratifying to close 2016 year with all this good news. Best wishes to you for the New Year ahead! 

Wayne Harris
Director, ECPCEDC
Airport Hires New Managing Director Gordon Rowell
Gordon Rowell is the new managing director of the Elizabeth City Regional Airport, according to the Elizabeth City Pasquotank County Airport Authority. The top pick among a field of 21 applicants, Rowell is the former operations manager of the Pitt-Greenville Airport, and he succeeds Dion Viventi, who resigned in July.
            "Gordon's experience at Pitt-Greenville Airport, which also has FBO and fuel-sales operations, mirrors the activities here at Elizabeth City Regional Airport," said Airport Authority Chairman Don Park. "Additionally, Gordon's military background made him an excellent fit for an
airport that operates under a joint-use agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard.
            " Rowell, who served 17 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, said finding new sources of revenue for the airport and maintaining excellent relations with the U.S. Coast Guard are his top two objectives. "As an ex-military guy, I understand that the Coast Guard's mission of search and rescue has to be priority number one," Rowell said. "At the same time, I'm confident I'll be able to develop new lines of business for Elizabeth City Regional Airport while operating within that framework."
NCEast Alliance - Bigger is Better for Elizabeth City Area 
When the North Carolina's Northeast Commission merged into the NCEast Alliance in late 2014, no one knew what to expect. The Commission served just 16 counties. Even within that relatively compact geography were partners with very different economies: tourism and marine trades in Currituck and Dare counties, aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul in Pasquotank County, food-processing and distribution along the I-95 corridor, with agriculture in between. The expanded NCEast Alliance region included communities that sprawled from Elizabeth City in the north to the Jacksonville and Morehead City/Beaufort corridor in the south and as far west as Rocky Mount, Wilson and Goldsboro.
The good news:  Under the terms of the merger, the new member counties would receive NCEast's services free of charge for four-and-a-half years.
"Honestly, I was glad we had the time to see how it was going to work," said ECPCEDC Director Wayne Harris. "It seemed like the arrangement could go either way. NCEast brought impressive resources to the table, but the ECPCEDC would be a small fish in a much bigger pond."
Two years into the arrangement, the partnership with NCEast Alliance has exceeded Harris' most optimistic expectations. "We're not just getting more visits, we're getting repeat visits from the right kind of prospects," he said. "NCEast is bringing us manufacturers with profiles very similar to those that have actually chosen to locate here in the past."
Much of the credit for that goes to Vann Rogerson, the former president of North Carolina's Northeast and now senior vice president with NCEast Alliance.
"Vann went into this merger like a man on a mission," Harris said. "He wanted to prove the merger was the right choice for North Carolina's Northeast, and he's delivered."
Rogerson, for his part, says being part of the larger organization has made his job easier. "Prospects are more willing to visit NCEast's territory than they were North Carolina's Northeast because there is a lot more to see."
The downside: When visits occur, Elizabeth City is competing with other cities the same size or larger in the expanded territory. As part of North Carolina's Northeast, Elizabeth City was the largest city in the region. But, Harris says, the disadvantage is minimal.
"We are still unique," he said. "We're a harbor town with a historic downtown and affordable residential waterfront property. We're an hour's drive from a major metro area with a port and an international airport, and an hour from the Outer Banks. There's not another city in Eastern North Carolina with all those attributes."
So how does Rogerson find prospects? By keeping his suitcase packed. In a typical year he will attend SELECT USA (foreign companies), SEMA (auto), SHOT (guns and ammunition), IBEX (marine) and assorted aviation trade shows, among others. He tries to augment those trips with visits to companies in the area where the shows are being held.
"I always make appointments before we attend," Rogerson says. "I specifically target smaller companies that don't use site consultant because the site consultants generally prefer to work through the state's economic development channels, not through us. And most of those projects end up in Charlotte, the Research Triangle, or the Triad."
Send Us Your Business News!
For our Social Media Business Information Network, we are gathering regional business and economic development-related news to share in this quarterly  Developments e-newsletter and on our social media sites. Please send along information that would be of interest to northeastern North Carolina's economic development stakeholders, municipalities, business owners, prospective businesses and employees. We are interested in hearing about:

*  Business openings and expansions
*  Business workshops and seminars
*  Continuing education opportunities
*  Grant announcements
*  Ground-breaking events
*  Major business announcements
*  Workforce development news
*  Special events with a focus on business
*  Items of interest that would appeal to 
   those who follow local and regional
   business news

Please send your news for consideration to  kharris@ecpcedc.com.

Apply Now for Jump-Start 2017 Downtown Biz Competition
Beginning this quarter, entrepreneurs may apply to win up to $12,000 in incentive packages, by entering Jump-Start Downtown, an Elizabeth City business plan competition, sponsored by Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. (ECDI), the Elizabeth City Area Committee of 100 and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission.
            Jump-Start is a great opportunity for start-ups to realize their dream of opening a business, and applicants have until Jan. 27, 2017 to submit their business plan. A first-place winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize to use for start-up capital and $3,500 worth of additional services. A second-place winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize (new this year) to use for start-up capital and up to $2,500 worth of business services.
            Any type of business is eligible to enter, so long as the proposed business location is within the boundaries of downtown Elizabeth City, and the winners must have their businesses up and running by Nov. 17, 2017. For details, and to apply online, go to
Southern Hotel Update  
A boutique hotel, conference center and upscale restaurant - that's the picture Bob Howsare, a business development specialist with SAGA Construction and Development, painted as the future for the Southern Hotel building in Elizabeth City. He relayed his plan to guests of the Committee of 100's quarterly business luncheon, Oct. 5 in Elizabeth City.
            Pending an agreement with the building's owner, rehabilitation work would begin in mid-2017 on the historic building, which dates to 1872 and takes up a good portion of a downtown city block at the corner of Main and Road streets. On completion, the site will feature a  fashionable destination hotel with up to 50 rooms; an adjoining 7,000 square-foot conference center in the site of a one-story automobile garage, located behind the hotel; and an on-site restaurant.
            The project would deliver a much-needed venue to Elizabeth City - a posh hotel and adjoining conference center that could support small meetings, conferences, weddings and special occasion events. Howsare projected the project would be completed in 2018, and the property would be managed by Charleston Hotels, a South Carolina hospitality company that manages properties in downtown Charleston.
Brew News 
Elizabeth City's plan to tap into its first brewery ventures moved giant steps closer last month, with updates on two projects.
            ECBC, LLC submitted a request for a matching Downtown Improvement Grant in the amount of $17,320 to renovate the Fowler Building on behalf for the operation of the Elizabeth City Brewing Co. ECBC Principal Dean Schaan said the initial work (removal of vinyl siding and paint on brick, electrical upgrades and window and mortar replacement) would be the first phase of a $500,000 project to restore the building and turn it into a microbrewery employing four full-time and six part-time workers. The two-story Fowler building, located at 113. N. Water Street, was said to be a speakeasy during Prohibition.
 Shingle Landing, LLC requested $20,000 toward a $60,102 project to renovate a former livery located between the current Hoppin' Johns restaurant and the back portion of the former Weatherly Candy Factory. Shingle Landing Principal George Jackson said the renovated structure will be leased to Ghost Harbor Brewing Company, which will open a nanobrewery and tasting room. A nanobrewery brews in batches of three barrels or smaller. Ghost Harbor projects it will hire two full-time and two part-time employees.
            The announcements bode well for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission (ECPCEDC), which has been actively promoting the region as a brewery destination.
            "These brewpubs will be the perfect complement to our "Harbor of Hospitality," the Southern Hotel, Arts of the Albemarle, the Downtown Waterfront Market and downtown's proliferation of restaurants," said ECPCEDC Director Wayne Harris. "In combination with these attractions and the completion of the mid-Currituck Bridge, Elizabeth City will become a must-see destination for a significant number of the four million people that visit the Outer Banks annually."
            For updates on these projects, stay tuned to the ECPCEDC's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ecpcedc .
Elizabeth City Area CVB Moves to MOA 
Visitors to Elizabeth City may now check into the Museum of the Albemarle for assistance with their travels. In November, the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (ECACVB) moved from its long-time South Water Street location to the expansive Museum facility, located just across the street at the corner of South Water and Ehringhaus streets.  
           The relocation provides the ECACVB with an easy-to-reach location, more parking and lower rent than its former site, while allowing both sites to expand their operating hours.  
           "The Museum didn't like Saturdays because they would have to field visitor questions because our office was closed. We didn't like Mondays because the Museum is one of the first places we send people and they were closed," said ECACVB Director Christina Rehklau. "It just made sense. By combining and cross-training our staffs to answer both museum and visitor questions, we gained a Saturday and the Museum gained a Monday."
           Together, the sites are now open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Banners identifying the new visitor center location now fly outside the Museum, and Rehklau and her staff have spread the word with additional signage, website and social media messages and outreach to Elizabeth City hotels.
            "Visitors naturally gravitate to the Museum, and it makes a wonderful first impression," said Rehklau. "They are glad we're here, and so are we."

For more Elizabeth City biz news and views, visit HarborofOpportunity.com.


                            EC Logo             


Headquartered in Elizabeth City, N.C., the Elizabeth City  |  Pasquotank County EDC markets business opportunities in the City of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County to prospective employers throughout the United States. It's location in the center of northeastern North Carolina makes the area ideally suited for business development, expansion and relocation. 

For information, go to elizabethcitypasquotankEDC.com or call at 1-888-338-1678 or (252) 338-0169.