Winter/Spring 2018

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From the Director

You know that feeling when things are going so unbelievably well you find yourself glancing over your shoulder, just in case, to see what sort of overdue misfortune must inevitably be sneaking up on you? That's the way it has been lately for those of us in Elizabeth City. As we reported in the fall issue of Developments, Legacy Coach relocated to the former State Line Builders Building in Pasquotank Commerce Park in August, bringing with it 35 well-paying jobs. In the fall, Elizabeth City's first craft brewery, Ghost Harbor Brewing Company, opened in downtown's newly accessible, festival-lighted Pailin's Alley. Like the alley itself, it was an instant hit. In 2018, the hits just keep on coming:
James Flanigan of J.D. Lewis Construction Management, held an open house in January to discuss the company's plans for converting the long-vacant Weatherly Building into market-rate apartments - and received a resounding welcome from his neighbors-to-be.  Also in January, Avangrid Renewables held a check-signing celebration to commemorate making its first property-tax payment to Pasquotank County. It was big with a capital "B":  $260,000 - $40,000 higher than the original estimate.  Pasquotank County and the City of Elizabeth City approved a Business Investment Program grant in February that will make possible the building of a state-of-the-art, eight-screen Cineplex that everyone has wanted for years.  That same month, the ECPCEDC, in partnership with the Elizabeth City Committee of 100, launched Retire In EC, an initiative to attract civic-minded retirees to our area.
A fascinating interview with Dr. Robert Wynegar, the newly installed President of College of The Albemarle, rounds out this remarkable winter/spring Issue. This week, we'll be hearing from Professor Nicholas Didow, director of the STAR Program at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, at a sold-out Committee of 100 Quarterly Luncheon. Didow will be laying out his vision for the Harbor Town Project-a very doable plan to establish fast-ferry service linking Elizabeth City to the four other historic towns on Albemarle Sound. We'll have a full report on that in the next issue.

Wayne Harris
Director, ECPCEDC
Community Partners Launch "Retire In EC" Campaign
This month, Elizabeth City community partners are launching a new advertising campaign, video and website,, with a clear message for retirees - Elizabeth City is a great place to visit and an even better place to live.
     With a focus on drawing more people to the area for retirement and second careers, the Retire In EC promotion targets couples age 50 and over who reside in the Mid-Atlantic region with a special visitation offer. For $249, two retirees can spend two nights in a historic B&B or small hotel, enjoy two breakfasts and dinners and explore the area. If they choose, they may also meet with a Retire In EC ambassador to learn more about life in Elizabeth City.   
     The campaign materials play up the area's waterfront views, temperate climate, small-town charm and convenient access to Norfolk and the Outer Banks. According to Elizabeth City Committee of 100 President Peter Thomson, the concept of using a visitation package to draw people to Elizabeth City is a unique strategy. 
     "It's a simple premise. We want folks contemplating retirement to come to Elizabeth City and see what we're about," said Thomson. "There's no hard sell, no seminars and no tricks. By offering an affordable travel package, they can stay in our hotels and inns, dine in our restaurants and experience our 'Harbor of Hospitality' for themselves." 
     Retire In EC is a cooperative effort, funded by Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Committee of 100, Pasquotank County, City of Elizabeth City, the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission,  Whichard & Woolard Wealth Management Group, Wells Fargo and the Foreman House B&B. For information, visit
Eight-screen Cineplex Coming to Elizabeth City
     Next year, Elizabeth City residents will have their choice of eight gigantic screens for watching just-released studio films as plans for a new multiplex cinema continue to unfold. Earlier this year, Albemarle Theatres LLC proposed the development of a $10 million Cineplex at City Center West during city and county public hearings. In February, both City of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County commissioners cleared the way for the project, voting in favor of a Business Investment Program incentive for the project. 
     Principals of Albemarle Theatres LLC include local business leaders Arthur McPherson III, with McPherson Investments in Elizabeth City; Henry Revelle of Revelle Builders in Murfreesboro; and Scott Cohen, who operates R.C. Theatres on the Outer Banks and other locations in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. McPherson said the Cineplex would feature 50-foot screens, reclining lounge chairs and a state-of the art sound system. 
     "This is a hugely important cultural marker for our community, especially for our college students, Coast Guard families and people and businesses who are considering moving to our area," said Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission Director Wayne Harris. 
     With the tax incentives approved, the development principals are moving forward with the project. Constr u ction is projected to begin this June, with a June 2019 opening date.
Wind Farm Check Signing
     Pasquotank and Perquimans County leaders gathered with officials from Avangrid Renewables on January 10 to receive the first property tax payment on the 104-turbine wind farm, Amazon U.S. Wind Farm East. The combined payment of $640,000 was presented in two checks to the respective counties. The wind farm, which began operating in January 2017, straddles the borders of both counties.
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Plans for Weatherly Building Underway
     James Flanigan has sweet plans for Elizabeth City's historic Weatherly Candy Factory Building. At a Committee of 100 meeting in January, he outlined to local business leaders how he and his partners at J.D. Lewis Construction Management of Richmond will convert the waterfront building and two adjacent buildings into 40-plus upscale modern loft apartments.  
     "We enjoy urban projects, and we've been looking at the building for some time," said Flanigan. "I saw the potential for an adaptive reuse project, and we will plan to use some of the historic elements of the building."  
     The building renovation will play up the exposed brick walls, metal columns and original glass, in addition to featuring new energy efficient windows, wooden floors, granite countertops, tiled bathrooms and stainless steel appliances. Most of the units will be one-bedroom apartments, with a few two-story loft spaces to accommodate live/work areas. Rent will be between $1,100 and $1,200 a month.
The building, located at the corner of Elizabeth and Water streets, dates to 1923. Over the years, it has been used by a number of businesses but is remembered fondly as the site of the Weatherly Candy Factory, an Elizabeth City landmark. 
"This is the most significant renovation in our downtown since the Arts of the Albemarle Center," said Wayne Harris, director of the Elizabeth City Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission. "The Weatherly Building is the first sight visitors from the Outer Banks see when they cross the bridge from Camden. In its current vacant state, it gives a very negative and erroneous first impression or our downtown." 
     Flanigan's company is presently seeking financing for the project, which will be supplemented with Historic Tax Credits. He says work on the project will begin this spring.
Meet College of The Albemarle President Dr. Robert Wynegar

      Last spring, Dr. Robert Wynegar and his wife drove their RV across the country, with dogs in tow, from Nevada to North Carolina. Their destination: College of The Albemarle (COA) in Elizabeth City, where Wynegar reported to work as its new president in April. His resume includes leadership roles with Western Nevada College; Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida; Darton College in Albany, Georgia; and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A first-generation college student, he has drawn on his personal experiences from almost 30 years in higher education to craft a leadership style that is inclusive, supportive and transparent, while emphasizing student success, faculty and staff development, and the community the college serves. Today, he is pleased to be making his mark at COA. 

Where are you from originally? I was born in Independence, Missouri, but only lived there for one year, and I spent a fair amount of time in Detroit. But I would call St. Paul, Virginia home. It's a small coal mining town in southwestern Virginia, where my mom's family is from and where my maternal grandmother lived. 

What was your college experience like - and what inspired you to enter the field of higher education? Having spent my youth in St. Paul, I knew that when you graduated from high school there's only one job possible for you, and that's to work in the coal mine. If you didn't, you couldn't support a family and be successful. My mother was one of nine siblings, with only one finishing high school. My grandmother, who raised me, had a second-grade education. I had no concept whatever of what college was like. In my senior year of high school, my guidance counselor took me out of class and told me that Tennessee Technological University had received a large donation and their engineering school was offering scholarships. I didn't know what a scholarship was or where Tennessee Tech was located. I resisted; she insisted. And there I was on my first day of college, sitting in a calculus class in this huge auditorium with more people than those who lived in my hometown. I discovered that I didn't have to work in a coal mine. I could do something else. This inspired my future career in higher education. 
What were your first impressions of COA? It was pretty much what I had expected. I'd called a lot of friends who had been college presidents here in North Carolina, and I read the entire COA website so I knew what the institution was like. I found the people to be very hospitable. There seemed to be camaraderie between the faculty and staff, and I could tell that they wanted to make students successful. 

What did COA think of you?
One of the concerns that the board had was to have someone who could understand the size of the service area. COA covers seven counties, over 1,800 square miles. In my job with Western Nevada College, my service area was 18,000 miles. They  discovered I could certainly handle this. 

You have a proven record of creating programs that provide student access and success. What are your plans for supporting and engaging students at COA?  As my wife and I drove to Elizabeth City, I read all the data I could about COA during our stops. One thing that jumped out at me - our enrollment is good, but it's not quite as good as it should be, especially with the region's adult population. We are missing adult students, those who are going to college for the first time, and those who seek continuing education. There are quite a few people in the area who should be thinking about college, but haven't yet. My gut feeling is that we have students who tend to think of COA as a chance to go for two years and transfer to a university. We're missing the other half of the college experience - one- and two-year workforce-related programs. We don't have enough emphasis in that area. 

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