Uptown Greenville, NC


Leaders Discuss Economic Development

By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

March 20, 2013 - The leaders of the Greenville City Council and Pitt County Board of Commissioners discussed economic development during Tuesday’s monthly chamber of commerce luncheon.

Encouraging economic development is a multi-partnership process that involves the city and county, the business community, East Carolina University and Vidant Health Systems, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said.

Thomas urged the nearly 70 business leaders at Tuesday’s event to address long-term issues.

“If we are going to recruit people to come to this community it has to be safe, it’s got to look vibrant and they’ve got to be able to ride down the road without their teeth chattering,” he said.

Luring new business and encouraging companies to expand is important because it increases the tax base, which keeps the county tax rate low, Pitt County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Garris said.

Recruiting new business is increasingly competitive, Garris said.

The county once offered 25 percent to 35 percent property tax reimbursements as an incentive. Today, it’ has increased to 75 percent to 85 percent tax reimbursement, he said.

Pitt County’s economic development office is currently pursuing two projects that could add $80 million to the county’s tax base and more than 200 jobs to the workforce, Garris said. The county is waiting for the client to approve the announcement.

The business community will play an important role in creating an environment that entices growth and it will begin with a discussion about road improvements, Thomas said.

Greenville has a double AA bond rating and plenty of borrowing capacity during a time of low interest rates, Thomas said.

“We need to step up and potentially consider doing an infrastructure bond for our roads and for our necessities we need in the community.

It’s going to be an education process,” he said.

Thomas also told the group to expect new initiatives for addressing crime, praising Police Chief Hassan Aden.

“He’s really lit a fire here with his approach,” Thomas said.

Along with encouraging multi-jurisdiction cooperation and community engagement, Aden is creating a comprehensive plan to put more officers on the street instead of patrol cars, Thomas said.

“He even has the idea of putting bike racks on all the police cruisers and have a bike so when (officers) are in the neighborhood they are literally on a bike or walking in a neighborhood,” he said.

Also, Aden has discussed assigning an officer to every neighborhood and homeowners’ association so when the community has an issue, people have an individual they can talk to, Thomas said.

“Public safety is about relationships,” Thomas said. “A lot of it is about neighbors looking after neighbors but also having a mechanism for getting help.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.