Admission to committee members is free. The cost for spouses or other guests is $10.
John Merritt, senior advisor for policy and communications to Governor Mike Easley, will be the guest speaker at this year's event.
Merritt's primary responsibilities include coordinating and implementing the Governor's One North Carolina agenda, with focus on economic development policies. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Golden Leaf Foundation, which promotes economic development in rural North Carolina.
Merritt, a Wilmington native, has worked as a senior officer for Hardee's Food System, and at various government-related jobs. Prior to accepting his current position, he was self-employed as a restaurant operator and business consultant.
The Bladen County Committee of 100 was established in 1995 to help enhance the county's economic development program. It is made up of members from throughout the county and has been a major force in attracting industrial development to the county since its establishment.
When the committee first organized in 1995, membership was 108. Since that time it has nearly doubled in size. Recently membership reached 200 for the first time-a longtime goal of the organization.
The Committee of 100 has partnered with the Economic Development Commission to offer attractive financial incentives to prospective industries.
In 1998, the Committee constructed a 40,000 square foot shell building in the Bladenboro Industrial Park that was later sold to a Maryland furniture manufacturing company. The company has since moved its operations to Bladen County and operates as Bladen Industries, Inc.
According to Bladen County Economic Developer Chuck Heustess, the shell building was responsible for attracting nine prospects to the county.
The Committee of 100 was selected to receive the Governor's Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurial Contribution for 1998.
In January of this year, the committee began work on a second shell building in the Elizabethtown Industrial Park. The building is now completed and being shown to prospective clients. The road leading to the building is scheduled to be paved within the next few months.
The Committee of 100 has also helped sponsor the Bladen County Industry Appreciation Golf Tournament and the surveying work for the sale of a lot in the Bladenboro Industrial Park for the relocation and expansion of an existing Bladen industry.