The Sanford Area Growth Alliance

The Sanford Area Growth Alliance announced that Bob Joyce, Economic Development Executive Director, has been named the 2019 North Carolina Economic Developer of the Year by the North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA). This announcement occurred during the 2020 NCEDA Fall Conference on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

Each year, NCEDA presents an award to the individual who best exemplifies leadership in the state’s economic development efforts. The North Carolina Economic Developer of the Year award is given in recognition of the winner’s contributions to expansions and projects completed during the previous calendar year.

In the single calendar year of 2019, Bob Joyce, longtime Lee County economic development leader and stalwart of the economic development community in central NC and the Research Triangle Region, invested seemingly three years’ worth of time and effort on behalf of his community, and landed a decade’s worth of capital investment and new job creation, by Lee County historical standards. Bob responded to nearly 80 project opportunities and led the effort to land two projects, Project Christmas and Project Forge, which will ultimately add $670 million in investment and create 760 new jobs with an annual payroll of more than $40 million upon project completion.

In his acceptance of the award, Bob remarked, “I would like to thank NCEDA for this wonderful honor! We did indeed have a great year – the result of more than 10 years of work by a lot of talented and dedicated people. This is, without question, a team sport. I accept this award on behalf of the whole team…my office mates, our business leaders and elected officials and government staff, the community college, the business developers at the state level and our marketing partners and allies. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. I was fortunate to watch and learn from two consummate professionals, Bob Heuts and, of course, Hal Siler who was a model of servant leadership and a real mentor to me. We would not be where we are today without their diligent work over 35 years.”

Joyce has committed a lifetime of his best effort to improving the quality of life for the citizens of Sanford, Broadway and Lee County. His professional roles have included successful ventures in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors as well as local and state government, but have always involved service to others and a significant investment of volunteer time in the community.

“The incredible success of SAGA’s highly effective public-private partnership model has drawn national attention from other similar communities hoping to replicate SAGA’s economic development formula,” commented SAGA CEO Jimmy Randolph. “Unfortunately for those communities, there is only one Bob Joyce; his quiet determination, humble leadership and relentless drive to overcome the next challenge has truly been the “secret ingredient” of SAGA’s recent economic development success. Congratulations to Bob for this well-deserved recognition. Sanford, Broadway and Lee County will continue to reap the benefits of his efforts for years to come.”  

Economic Development Executive Director Michael Smith, who nominated Joyce, exclaimed, “Bob Joyce is one of the most thorough, hardworking, and meticulous economic developers I have ever seen. His level of detail and knowledge of Sanford and Lee County allowed the community to win several exceptionally competitive projects. We often speak of economic development as the ultimate team sport. Bob is the epitome of how this can work, as everyone in Sanford and Lee County want to be on Bob’s team. He keeps a quote on his office wall, ‘Press On.’ He lives that quote every day.”

About the Sanford Area Growth Alliance

The Sanford Area Growth Alliance is a public-private partnership created by bringing together Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce to expand and diversify the local economic base. Lee County, NC is made up of the City of Sanford and Town of Broadway. Located less than 40 minutes from the Research Triangle Park, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NC State University. The community is at a strategic location, in the geographic center of North Carolina, and a part of both the Research Triangle Region and the NC Carolina Core.


Courtesy photo/Contributed.

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