Growth, Jobs and a Stronger Community are Focus of “Vision 2020”

More than 80 community leaders gathered at

Christ Episcopal Church, Oct. 31, to take the first step in developing a long-term strategic plan to bolster the business landscape in Elizabeth City. As envisioned by Mayor Joe Peel, the goal of the community-based “Vision 2020” is to bring economic growth and jobs to the area by 2020. To get there, Peel, along with area business leaders, are seeking input from the community to gauge what needs to happen in order to reach that goal. All aspects of life in Elizabeth City will be reviewed in the process, including a look at the current educational, cultural, political and business environments.

Leadership from the ECPCEDC’s Committee of 100 was in attendance. Its chairman, Peter Thomson, sees Vision 2020 as an “important moment for us to recognize the hopes of the community, get in touch with divergent groups and learn about new facets of the area’s changing society.

“We believe that at the end of the process, we can all work in unison to create a better economic climate here in Elizabeth City,” Thomson said.

At the planning meeting, attendees listened to presentations from Greg Edwards, vice president of the Port of Virginia; John Knibb, senior vice president of Divaris Real Estate, Inc.’s retail team; Scott Hinton, manager of the Elizabeth City Regional Airport; and Wayne Harris, director of the Albemarle Economic Development Commission. The speakers provided an overview of the region’s current business landscape.

Break-out sessions followed, as the group divided into teams to develop a SWOT analysis of Elizabeth City’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

After reviewing the compiled SWOT results in early December, the group identified five key factors needed in economic development and community development to make Elizabeth City a stronger community and a more competitive business destination. Additional meetings are planned for December and in January, and a “Vision 2020” draft plan is expected to be completed by next summer.