Grandover Resort was the site of a large conference of economic development officials in North Carolina – as well as others who also play a leadership role in the efforts to bring new business to the state and grow the businesses that are already here.

On Tuesday, Oct. 12 and Wednesday, Oct. 13, the North Carolina Economic Development Association (NCEDA) held its fall conference at the popular luxury resort.  Participants had their choice of showing up in person or participating online.  About 250 attendees were physically present at Grandover, while another 30 or so took part virtually.

The Carolina Core/Piedmont Triad Partnership was the presenting sponsor for the event that featured several local speakers and panelists, including Piedmont Triad International Airport Executive Director Kevin Baker, Greensboro Attorney Mike Fox, who’s the chairman of the NC Board of Transportation and the president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, and High Point University President Nido Qubein, who’s co-chair of the Piedmont Triad Partnership board.

Qubein gave the keynote address. 

Former High Point Economic Development  Corp. President  Loren Hill, who served as conference co-chair due to the fact that he’s an NCEDA board member, said the presentations were very well received and added that Qubein, in particular, had a terrific speech.

“Many attendees told me how impressed they were,” Hill said of Qubein’s keynote. “Leigh Cockram, who is Rockingham County’s economic developer, posted on LinkedIn, ‘Such an amazing, inspiring speaker!’ ”

At the conference, the group of economic development officials heard presentations on “Strategies for Aviation and Aerospace,”  “Leadership from the Intersection of Education and the Economy”  and “Building the Digital Economy.” 

Attendees also got updates on recent work by the NC Department of Transportation and the EDPNC.

Some attendees also went on a zoo outing, a walking tour of Greensboro and a tour of High Point University.  There was also a golf outing as an activity for those who wanted to hit the links at Grandover.

The Carolina Core is a large economic development branding effort for central North Carolina spanning 17 counties.  The initiative attempts to link economic development assets in the region – such as universities, research facilities and megasites – under the “Carolina Core” name.

 Hill noted that the conference at Grandover was the first in-person gathering of the economic developers in the Carolina Core since the pandemic began  – and perhaps the first one ever.

“I don’t remember meeting in person with the whole group since the Carolina Core was formed,” Hill said.

Before the full conference began at 6 p.m. on Tuesday,  Carolina Core hosted its own reception from 5 to 6 p.m.  About 40 people attended –  including economic developers in those 17 counties and guests such as the NC Department of Commerce Chief of Staff Marqueta Welton.

At the conference, the group recognized an Alamance County economic developer who is retiring at the end of the month and congratulated some of those who are new to the state’s economic development community.