ELIZABETHTOWN — A brainstorming session geared toward how to improve the small business environment in Bladen County will be held Thursday, Aug. 11, at Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery.
The session, which will include lunch, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and those wanting to participate should RSVP to the Bladen County Economic Development Commission at 910-645-2292 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug. 8.
“This is our first attempt to do something like this,” said Chuck Heustess, executive director of the BCEDC, ” We received a Community Development Block Grant grant aimed at industrial development and, out of that, there was $10,000 to explore how to improve the small business environment in the county.”
He added that the brainstorming session will hopefully generate some out-of-the-box thinking.
“This gathering will hopefully offer suggestions on how to help retail, discuss regulatory changes, how government can help grow the economy, etc.,” Heustess said. “We just want to hear ideas from the business community on how we can help them.”
Hesutess added that Bladen County finds itself in a tough position with economic growth because of what most new industries are looking for.
“All rural counties are really struggling, and we are certainly in that category,” he said. “We are fortunate to have some solid industries like Smithfield, Dupont, Specialty Product Technologies (formerly Danaher) and agriculture overall are all part of a terrific base for us.
“But we’re just not getting visits from new industries, and that equates back to not having the type of locations most want,” he added. “Things we can’t offer — like proximity to an interstate, natural gas access, sewer capacity, etc. — hamstrings us.”
Huestess said the county has been extremely successful building buildings and helping grow small business, “… but that’s a very expensive endeavor,” he said.
Anyone with an interest in seeing small business grow in Bladen County is urged to attend the session.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.