By Eliot Duke
Dunn Daily Record
The I-95/I-40 Crossroads of America Economic Development Alliance faced its first major obstacle earlier this year before the fledgling endeavor ever really got off the ground.
Representatives from Dunn, Four Oaks and Benson gathered last December and came away with an agreement to join forces in hopes of creating an expansive prosperous area built on quality jobs.
When Benson pulled out of the partnership in May, Dunn and Four Oaks faced a decision: let the alliance die on the vine or solider forward together.
Both towns chose the latter and on Tuesday took a major step together that brought the alliance closer to fruition than ever.
Dunn Mayor William Elmore announced a list of recommendations to city council on potential nominees he hoped would serve on the newly established board of directors for the alliance. Council accepted Elmore’s list, which included Dr. David Bradham, a sitting council member and owner of Bradham Chiropractic; Jeffrey Dunn, president of Carolina Fire Protection; Walter Massey, a retired Duke energy employee; and Matthew Smith, a CPA and partner of TRP Sumner, PLLC. Bradham and Dunn will serve 2-year terms while Massey and Smith are on board for 4-year terms.
“We’ve approved our memorandum of understanding recently and Four Oaks approved theirs,” Elmore said. “They made their appointments [Monday night].”
Four Oaks appointed Andy Hardy, a local commissioner and chief financial officer at South River Electric Membership Corporation; Harold Keen, president of KS Bank; Joanna Sasko, who retired from IBM; and Derrick Marconi, the CFO and vice president of House Autry Mills, to also serve on the alliance board of directors.
Elmore also introduced Dunn-native Reid Williams as the alliance’s interim director.
Williams previously spent three years working at the county manager’s office in Johnston County and two years with Four Oaks overseeing its economic operations.
“I grew up off Highway 301 just north of Dunn on a small family farm,” said Williams. “My parents relocated to Four Oaks and I’ve been in Four Oaks ever since. I’ve been fortunate that a lot of guys and ladies have bought stock in me so I’ve been able to work alongside some nice people.”
Williams’ involvement in the alliance started more than a year ago and he currently is scanning the area for possible economic development opportunities.
“We’re glad to bring him on board,” Elmore said. “He has been working with us for about 18 months now as we have been putting this together. He’s going to help us get this program kicked off and running over the next few months. His first take will be looking at land in the area and what’s available and who the owners are. He’ll be identifying these properties and what type of jobs that we’re looking for in this area.”
While land and buildings are nice to look at, Elmore said without a properly trained workforce, the area will struggle to attract the right type of jobs people need.
“We can bring all the manufacturing that we want to here but if we don’t have a workforce to fill up these jobs when they get here, it’s just not going to work,” said Elmore.
The new board will hold its first meeting on Tuesday.