August 25, 2016

Dare calls on citizens to answer
economic development survey


Dare County put out a call for help this afternoon to residents and local business owners.

The county is working with two contractors -- North Carolina State University and RTI International -- to develop an economic development and diversification plan.

"Your involvement and input are critical to our success," the county said today on its website.

Specifically, the county wants as many folks as possible who live, work, and own businesses in Dare County to take a short amount a time to answer a survey that will  help the contractors craft their economic development recommendations.

"We are asking residents and local business owners to share their opinions and attitudes in relation to local growth, quality of life, and economic development for Dare County," the posting on the website added. "Please complete the online survey and share the link with others."

The survey can be accessed by either clicking on or copying and pasting it into the browser on your computer, tablet or smart phone. 

It should take less than 20 minutes to complete. And all responses are anonymous.

County officials says say the survey data will be an important part of understanding what growth and economic development policies residents and business owners support. 

"The more responses we receive, the better informed we will be to address key issues about your local economy," the county said.   

The surveys should be completed no later than Monday, Sept. 12.

The county hired the two contractors -- N.C. State and RTI -- in January to develop the economic development plan at a cost of $58,640 with $14,660 due on signing in January and the remainder in payments in April, July, and October.

At a January meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Jack Shea noted that the proposed plan is not a "museum piece" but a  "living, breathing" way forward.

The presenters from N.C. State's Office of Outreach and Engagement -- Dan Parks, associate executive director, and Rex Raiford, northeast regional manager -- stressed the same point.

Parks called the plan "visionary and practical" and not an "academic endeavor." The plan, he said, develops a "high-return strategy" not one that "will collapse of its own weight" and "sit on a shelf somewhere."

The proposal breaks the specific work into three tasks:

  • Scan the current economic landscape.  RTI will summarize the current landscape so that all leaders and stakeholders are grounded in a common understanding of Dare County's economy before developing a strategy.
  • Develop an asset inventory.  Community assets will include schools, community colleges, key employers, key government organizations, business incubators, and chambers of commerce.
  • Document best practices for diversifying coastal communities.  RTI will identify three tourism-centric coastal communities that have successfully diversified into other sectors. Once the communities are identified, RTI will speak with each to better understand its strategy for diversification and reasons why its strategy worked.
N.C. State's proposal would gather information from community "ideation" sessions, interviews with economic development and community leaders, and web-based surveys that will reach broad cross-sections of citizens and other stakeholders in the county.

The proposal includes drafting a written action plan for going forward with economic development and how it will be handled by the county -- such as with a county economic development office or a public-private partnership of some sort.

Parks and Raiford said that implementation is where most economic development plans fail and to avoid that for Dare County, the N.C. State team will stay with the county for six months of plan execution.


Click here to read a related Editor's Blog, Dare County will focus on economic development in 2016.

Click here to read the Economic Diversification Plan proposed by N.C. State University Office of Outreach & Engagement.

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