Franklin-Southampton County: One vision. One economy. One community.

Published 10:48 am Friday, February 28, 2014

by E. Warren Beale Jr.

Roughly 10 years ago, through the help of The Camp Family Foundations, Franklin Southampton Charities and other wonderful partners, a process began to examine the state of our regional economy. We looked at what must be done to ensure that we preserved a high standard of living for the region’s residents, and to assure that our business and other infrastructure were maintained.

That effort blossomed into work by the Franklin Southampton Alliance – a coalition business, educational, and community leaders were a part of a visioning process. The vision the Alliance had then was that economic development could truly be regional. Although, Franklin and Southampton Country represent two separate and distinct communities, our destinies are intertwined with one another.

A Look Back

To say that the endeavor was successful would be an understatement. From the work of the Alliance and the collective visioning effort which followed, a number of initiatives were born. They include the establishment of the group “Futures,” which was developed and designed to look at regional amenities and programs. The intent was to look at ways to build on the wonderful foundation found in our area, and to grow and expand upon it for the benefit of current citizens and future citizens.

Another outcome of the Alliance is Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc. or FSEDI. I serve as chairman of the Board of FSEDI, and I am particularly proud of the work which has been accomplished on the economic development front for both Franklin and Southampton.

Over the last nine years since establishment of FSEDI, we have had more than 794 jobs created; we have had over $200,000,000 in new investment; and we’ve been able to influence more and more business prospect site visits to our region year after year. The accomplishments of FSEDI are many, and they are expansive.

Where We Are Today – Where Are We Going in the Future

While the work of the Alliance was important then (and there have been proven successes coming from those efforts), we absolutely cannot rest on our laurels.

That’s why FSEDI and the Franklin Southampton Area Chamber are partnering to hold the Partners in Progress: One Vision. One Economy. One Community meeting on Tuesday, March 11 at the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center in Franklin. Now is the time to examine what we’re doing and to assess what new opportunities lay before us.

We see a changing workforce landscape. We see a changing business landscape. Technology has changed the very way we manage and operate business. And with so many changes, we absolutely must adapt. There is a great interest in diversifying our economy. Again, we’ve achieved a great deal in the short years which FSEDI was birthed. But we must continue the hard work.

What Does the Future Hold?

I believe that our regional future is bright. I believe that our future will be even better than our latter. But this belief will not come to pass just because I believe it will.

Come to the event set to occur Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30 a.m. at the Regional Workforce Development Center. This is another historic and important opportunity for you to hear feedback on the economic opportunities available to the Franklin-Southampton region, and moreover for you to be actively engaged in “visioning” opportunities as we look at ways to ensure the continued health and economic prosperity of our area into the future. We have invited MDC President, Mr. David Dodson, a key representative who worked with this region roughly 10 years ago as we conducted a similar “strategic visioning” examination.

To achieve success, we must work. And most importantly we must work together. Please come out and join us. Call 562-4900 today to make your reservation.

E. WARREN BEALE is the chairman of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development, Inc board of directors. He can be reached at 562-1958