Freeman questions ED plans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

WINTON – What have you done for me lately?

Basically, that is the question Hertford County Commissioner Curtis A. Freeman wants the Board to put to Economic Development Director Bill Earley.

During Monday night’s meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners, Freeman took a point of personal privilege to question what has been done of late to recruit business and industry to Hertford County.

&uot;I think we need to bring Mr. Earley back before the Board,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;Not enough is being done to bring business and industry to Hertford County.&uot;

The commissioner indicated the last time Earley made a report to the Board, there were two groups looking at Hertford County.

&uot;Since then, one of them went to Roanoke Rapids and I’m not sure we really were being considered,&uot; Freeman said.

A multi-million dollar entertainment complex is likely to be located in Halifax County, near Roanoke Rapids. Private developers and some city and county officials are working to gain final approval of the project.

Freeman said his concern was the last two major industries to locate in the county were Nucor and Rivers Correctional. He said while he was pleased to see the aluminum plant opening in Ahoskie, it was basically rehiring jobs that were lost and not adding new jobs to the county.

&uot;I don’t see anything hiring new employees,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;The chicken place in Ahoskie (Bojangles) is fine and we welcome them, but we need to get serious on hunting for major corporations. I want to show that we are working toward something.

&uot;We need to strengthen our convictions on working harder,&uot; he continued. &uot;At least we need to open the door of opportunity.&uot;

Commission Chairman DuPont Davis asked if any other commissioner had comments on the subject.

&uot;I think he’s on target,&uot; Commissioner John Pierce said.

Davis asked Interim County Manager John Ed Whitehurst to pass on the commissioner’s comments to Earley.

Freeman wasn’t finished with his comments, however, adding that he felt Ahoskie, being the largest town in three counties, should be a draw.

&uot;We need more than small stores, although we certainly welcome them,&uot; Freeman said.

Davis said the county had an excellent recruiting tool with Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC).

&uot;If we need programs to train employees, they can come up with a program,&uot; Davis said.

Acting RCCC President Dr. Claudia Morris said the community college would be glad to help with the recruitment of industry.

&uot;We have done that with Nucor and still do,&uot; Morris said. &uot;There are ideas out there to be tapped into and the community college can play a large role.&uot;

Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce Executive Phyllis Frymier also said her organization wanted to help in the area of attracting business and industry.

&uot;One of our goals is to get more involved in industrial growth in the area,&uot; Frymier said. &uot;We will work with whomever we can to help.&uot;

In summing up the conversation, Davis reminded commissioners of the Bible passage that says, ‘Faith without works is dead.’