PIP releases economic development report

Moore County Partners in Progress (PIP) recently released their Quarterly Progress Report highlighting their activities and initiatives in the areas of economic development, community development, and workforce development for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

“What’s notable this quarter are our efforts related to supporting Moore County’s existing industries, as well as the progress we made toward product development,” said Natalie Hawkins, Executive Director of Partners in Progress.

Existing Business & Industry Support

Partners in Progress visited several local companies, concluded Moore County’s first employer survey, and moved forward with creating a new Business Development Director staff position, all aimed at strengthening relationships with Moore County’s existing businesses and positioning PIP to support them more effectively.

PIP met with Meridian Kiosks and nVent, both in Aberdeen, and Penick Village in Southern Pines to learn more about their respective needs, opportunities, and challenges. As a direct result of these visits, PIP facilitated connections to Moore County Schools and Sandhills Community College for two of the companies to help address their workforce development needs.

Earlier this year, PIP, in partnership with the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, Moore County Schools, and Sandhills Community College, contracted with a leading survey research firm, National Business Research Institute, to survey local employers and gather their feedback about four key areas: 1) education, skills, and training; 2) recruitment, retention, and hiring; 3) satisfaction with Moore County’s business environment; and 4) business outlook. During June and July, 149 employers of all sizes in all industry sectors throughout Moore County completed the survey, and the results were presented to key stakeholders this quarter.

There were four main takeaways from the survey results:

1) Employers have a high level of satisfaction with the overall image and quality of life in Moore County.

2) Overall, employers have a positive business outlook with the majority expecting revenue and workforce growth over the next 12 months.

3) Moore County employers had difficulty finding qualified applicants to fill open positions in the last 12 months, echoing a trend currently being seen across the country.

4) Only a small percentage of employers are aware of and are utilizing the workforce development programs offered through local education providers.

PIP was also pleased to learn through the survey that 97% of employers agree that PIP provides responsive services and a high level of support, which exceeds PIP’s staff performance goal in fiscal year 2023 of achieving an 80% satisfaction rate.

Partners in Progress, Moore County Chamber, Moore County Schools, and Sandhills Community College are continuing to work closely to analyze the survey results more extensively, and next steps include identifying specific actions that these organizations and other community partners can take to best address the needs Moore County’s employers expressed in the survey.

PIP’s Board of Directors also approved the creation of a new Business Development Director (BDD) position that will help PIP continue to provide a high level of service to existing and prospective businesses. Among other responsibilities, the BDD will directly manage PIP’s Business, Retention, and Expansion program designed to proactively connect with existing businesses and industries and help ensure that they grow, thrive, and stay in Moore County. More information about the BDD position is available at this link: https://www.moorebusiness.org/2022/10/24/jobposting/.

Product Development

Also this quarter, PIP made significant progress on increasing the availability and competitiveness of industrial sites in Moore County. “Partners in Progress is currently managing seven grants totaling over $2 million dollars for industrial site development and business expansion in Moore County,” said Hawkins. “This is unprecedented in PIP’s history.”

“Most of this funding is allocated specifically for pre-development work in the Iron Horse Industrial Park in Aberdeen,” she added. PIP has accumulated funding of over $1.7 million to facilitate the potential purchase of a parcel in the Park, install a public industrial access road, and clear a portion of the site.

Additional progress in the area of product development included:

• Through the $20,700 NC’s Southeast’s Product Development Fund Program grant awarded to PIP, work began on several due diligence analyses, including a Phase I Environmental Assessment, for the 100-acre Southern Pines Corporate Park. PIP worked with LKC Engineering and the property owner to begin updating the Park’s current conceptual site plan.

• As a result of Senator Tom McInnis’ efforts, a $1.2 million state appropriation was approved for PIP to facilitate Industrial development in Moore County.

• Through the Golden LEAF Foundation’s SITE Program grant awarded to the Town of Robbins, site consultants met with PIP and Town staff to begin identifying potential sites for industrial development in northwestern Moore County.

Other Significant Activities

Other significant activities highlighted in the Partners in Progress Quarterly Progress Report for the quarter ended Sept. 30 include:

• PIP worked closely with Southern Pines Brewing Company and the Town of Carthage to facilitate the brewery’s expansion in the Buggy building in downtown Carthage. This project represents a multi-million investment and new job creation for Carthage, and it will also generate momentum for the Town’s downtown revitalization.

• PIP’s Entrepreneurial Task Force achieved the Certified Entrepreneurial Community® designation for Moore County by creating a new digital resource center on PIP’s website to support new local start-ups and small businesses.

• PIP started a rebranding and website consolidation initiative to strengthen the identity of the organization. Early next year, PIP will unveil a new contemporary logo, a redesigned website, and even a new name for the organization.

• PIP staff will participate in the upcoming Corridors of Opportunity panel discussion hosted by Triangle Business Journal on Nov. 30 at 8 a.m. in Pinehurst. Panelists will provide their insights about various topics impacting Moore County’s future. The public is encouraged to attend and can purchase tickets on Triangle Business Journal’s website.

The full Quarterly Progress Report for the quarter ended Sept. 30 can be accessed on the Partners in Progress website.

“PIP is especially appreciative of Senator McInnis’ support of economic development opportunities in Moore County,” said Hawkins. “The $1.2 million he obtained for Partners in Progress is critical funding that will substantially move the needle on preparing Moore County for future industrial development and advancing our mission to increase economic prosperity and improve the quality of life in Moore County.”

Moore County Partners in Progress is a 501c(3) not-for-profit economic development organization and public-private partnership serving all of Moore County. Partners in Progress’ mission is to “increase economic prosperity and improve the quality of life for Moore County’s citizens through the creation of quality jobs and capital investment in our communities.”

For more information about Moore County Partners in Progress, please visit www.moorebusiness.org.

Photo by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Melissa Schaub.

Contributed.

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