Bertie County companies hiring

Published 8:11 am Monday, January 5, 2015

WINDSOR – The “We’re Hiring” sign is out, and county officials want people to take advantage of it.

At the December meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners county Economic Development Director Steve Biggs noted that some companies located within the county have jobs available.

Biggs updated the commissioners on the pending merger of the Northeast Alliance and the NCEast Alliance and asked the Board to support efforts to requests the Board of Directors of North Carolina’s Northeast Alliance to suspend efforts to force membership in the NC East Alliance on behalf of the 16 northeastern North Carolina counties that are part of the Northeast Commission.

Biggs asked the Commissioners to request the directors of the Northeast Alliance to re-check regional marketing strategies for economic development that can result in job creation and investment for the region; and also that the Commissioners seek assistance in pursuing the return of Bertie County’s per capita share, some $30,000, of the state funds originally allocated to the Northeast Commission, but transferred by the General Assembly to the Northeast Alliance.

Biggs added that since the legislature ceased funding of the Northeast Commission, no new members were appointed to the 18-member board, and that money allocated for marketing could be better spent by the 16 counties in what became the Alliance.

He went on to point out that the member county Northeast Economic Development (NEED) directors met on a regular basis to discuss how an inter-county partnership could be best served.

“The NEED group has continued over the last year or so to try to market the area with funds that we have in our own counties’ budget,” Biggs said.

Biggs said taking the funds, estimated at $1.2 million, and moving them to the partnership was not what many developers felt should happen, and while he doubted the merger would be stopped, he felt support for the resolution and an effort to get the county’s portion of the funds allocated to them was what would best benefit Bertie County.

“Some counties took the money and left, and others simply didn’t join,” Biggs added.

Commission chairman Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson asked if the $1.2 million could be divided once the Commission was absorbed or counties ceased to participate in the merger.

“It’s our money,” Wesson said. “A portion of those dollars were appropriated to support the counties involved and if the Northeast partnership is not approved by the counties in the partnership then why not go out of business, take the money, divide it up and give it back to us.”

Biggs said several counties approached the Alliance requesting funds that the counties would match that would assist in the marketing, such as at trade shows.

“We were going to make this a true regional concept of marketing,” Biggs said. “We were turned down, but now they want to take (a portion of those funds) and give to somebody else to market.  We just have a feeling this won’t be good for us.”

Commissioner John Trent made a motion for the Bertie Commissioners to support the resolution, seconded by Commissioner Tammy Lee that an effort is made to return Bertie’s portion of the funds back to the county.

The motion was unanimously approved with Wesson asking Biggs to find out if other counties were not supporting the merger.

“My feeling is that it’s our money and we ought to be able to determine how it’s spent and to get it (the money) back,” Wesson said.

Wesson said there are 82 jobs available with Bertie Correctional Institute and 138 people have been hired as part of the first wave with the solar farm. He said County Manager Scott Sauer suggested the county work with all its partnerships to build on job readiness and preparation.

“We have to make a coordinated effort led by the county to do some of the work; advertising, breaking some of the myths of job qualification, and be a little more pro-active in getting our citizens aware and ready for these jobs,” Wesson said.

Trent added that Bertie workers have been praised by these employers as well as in feasibility studies aimed at bringing new companies to the county.

“We’ve got good people to do certain jobs,” Trent recalled the businesses saying, “and these are the mainstays and some of the best workers I’ve seen in my life.”

Wesson pointed out how the Bertie Correctional Institute (BCI) employment had gone from less than 30 percent Bertie workers to over 60 percent today.

“This is all because we connected our people to job opportunities,” Wesson said. “That’s what we’ve got to do on a larger scale. We have got the workforce.”