As the Carolinas Gateway Partnership works diligently to recruit new companies to the area, new President and Chief Executive Officer Norris Tolson also understands the significance of helping grow the industries already operating in the Twin Counties.







While nothing has been set in stone, Tolson has plans for the Partnership to become more active in recognizing how existing industries have positively impacted the Twin Counties and what steps can be taken by the local public-private partnership to help them grow in Nash and Edgecombe counties.

Tolson already has made the rounds to different city and county meetings and pledged to promote the strengths of the Twin Counties.

“What we want to do is celebrate the businesses we’ve got already here in the community but also help them grow,” Tolson said. “If we can go out here and help Pfizer add another 300 employees, then that’s a whole lot better for the community, investment wise.”

Although this is something already part of the mission statement of the Partnership, Tolson said, during his many years in economic development, this is a concept that is important for building partnerships in the business community.

“We’re still in the early stages, but we want to do things that are meaningful and add some value to what the existing businesses are doing,” Tolson said. “It’s great when we’re out there talking to a new client – and we’re going to be aggressive in doing that. However, a lot of people look at economic development and only see it as getting the new people. We want the industries here to know that they’re wonderful. They’re providing great jobs for the community and putting in a lot of money into the community. Sometimes it’s a little easy to forget that and concentrate all your energy on growing new things.”

Carolinas Gateway Partnership Vice President Krista Ikirt, who recruits for Nash County, said it’s announcements such as Draka Elevator Products’ expansion that can be used as another recruiting tool to attract new industries to the Twin Counties. She added Draka picked Nash County over a few other potential areas. Draka is adding 34 full-time jobs over the next five years and investing $12.1 million to build a new manufacturing facility at the Whitakers Business and Industrial Center.

“When you have a good story to tell, a potential new company wants to hear that,” Ikirt said. “It helps when you’ve got existing businesses and industries choose us over anywhere else to grow, while adding employees, increasing the capital base and continuing to have a good bottom line.”

During his time in several prominent roles, including as a longtime executive for DuPont, Tolson said the best selling tool for recruiting new industry is already having satisfied customers.

“When we go to the people Krista has recruited in Nash County and they inform us they really like what we did to get them to come here and really like what we’ve done to follow up with them, that’s important to know,” he said. “If we take a new client in there, we can tell someone in charge of an existing business to tell a potential new company executive what they think about us. It’s really important for me that these existing industries really do believe we genuinely are interested in helping them grow, because that will attract the next industry or help somebody grow here in our counties.”


Credit: The Rocky Mount Telegram. Read the original article here.