The Columbus Jobs Foundation is beginning its 2016 fund drive as the economic development group seeks to grow the number of people and businesses who want to join in a countywide effort to create more jobs.
Chairman Rick Edwards said the group is focused on assisting Columbus County Economic Development to bring business and industry to the county. CJF is also responsible for Southeast Regional Park west of Whiteville.
While maintaining and promoting the park is a focus, Edwards said CJF wants to be seen as a countywide organization. The group was actively involved in the recruitment of a new toy manufacturer to Tabor City and hopes to push, along with the EDC, plans to initiate a new industrial park in the Acme-Delco-Riegelwood area. CJF also has a revolving loan fund that can be used by small businesses to grow.
The group hopes to raise $30,000. If that goal is reached, an anonymous donor will kick in another $10,000.
There are several levels of giving, including a “Millennial” level for young professionals.
“We have to get our young people more involved and engaged,” Edwards said. “There is a lot of talent and energy in that age group that we need to get on board.”
Edwards explained that CJF is the citizen-led component of economic development in the county. Leads are often generated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, North Carolina’s Southeast and Columbus County Economic Development.
“We work hand-in-hand with these groups to bring jobs to the county,” Edwards said. “Most counties have economic development departments, but we believe that new industry and business will respond when they see the intense interest, enthusiasm and motivation that our group brings to the table,” Edwards added. “We’ve already been involved in helping recruit several potential prospects, some of which would be big boost for Columbus County. I believe 2016 will be a bright year.”
Board members are Richard Wright, Les High, vice-chair; Carl Meares, Jr., Amy Bailey Carter, Nancy Sigmon, secretary-treasurer; Edwards, Dr. Anthony Clarke, Bill Hollis, Jeff Etheridge, Densil Worthington, Rep. Kenneth Waddell, Al Leonard, Ricky Benton, Trent Burroughs, John Council, Bill Clark, Dalton Dockery and Harry Foley.
Edward said that CJF is strictly a volunteer organization comprised of civic-minded residents who want to see the county grow. Money raised will go for recruitment and marketing efforts, as well as upkeep of Southeast Regional Park.
The group also has a new website, columbusjobsfoundation.org, that features a virtual tour of the industrial park, testimonials, and a news and business feed.
There are several levels of giving, from individual, which is $150, to several corporate levels. Memberships can be submitted on the new website by clicking on the “Join us” button.
“We have mostly relied on individual contributions in the past, but we hope every business will join at some level,” Edwards added. “If we work together, we can build the type of strong business community we need and deserve.”