Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission Director Christian Lockamy has been on the job for less than two months, but he said in that short period of time he sees “a strong economic development program…with a tremendous amount of potential” for good things to come.
Since his Jan. 19, 2021 start date, Lockamy said he’s been “very impressed” with people he’s met and things he’s seen, adding that the focus is on the right areas to support economic development.” He spoke with John C. Rose on Monday’s Town Talk and said he looks forward to what the future holds for the area.
He noted that industries looking for areas to establish or relocate often are attracted by what’s already in place. “Industry reps are not pioneers,” he said. They don’t want to go and be, in a lot of cases, the first person in an industrial park,” he said. “They like to locate where other industrial companies” are already located.
With the addition of such businesses like Raleigh-based Mako Medical Laboratories, Lockamy said the Henderson area is poised to continue to attract more industry. “They’re looking for a place to go and conduct their business” and educational institutions nearby to fill out their workforce. “If we do what we’re supposed to be doing, for economic development and really go after sites and buildings…we’ll be able to land more companies,” he explained.
Lockamy worked for 2 ½ years in the Elizabeth City/Pasquotank Economic Development Commission before coming to Henderson, and he said he is proud of the work there to develop the Tanglewood industrial site project by building upon proximity to rail and interstate infrastructure, as well as creating a public-private partnership to further the project.
“Shovel-ready” sites and buildings are the key to attracting new business and industry to an area, he said. “Those are the types of things that change a community forever.”
During his time in Elizabeth City, he helped create a strategic plan, led efforts to launch a new economic development website and was instrumental in securing a large industrial site and certifying two industrial parks, according to information released when his hiring in Vance County was announced.
Experience using GIS (geographic information systems) comes in handy, too, Lockamy explained, when it comes to helping counties land new businesses and industry. The GIS provides data that can help identify sites for future economic development.
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His time working with GIS for the city of Greenville gave him the chance to help city planners and decision makers, understand and make necessary changes to ordinances – all based on objective data from GIS. “It became instrumental when I got into economic development,” he said of GIS, and he began using GIS and research skills to understand the economic development climate, he added. GIS data can be used to analyze the demographics within a certain radius of a prospective site where a business may be looking to locate.
Besides attracting new industry, Lockamy said he looks forward to working with a new downtown director – once that person is in place. “I believe we have a lot of potential downtown,” he said, adding that Garnett Street has many old buildings that can be brought back to life. He said his experience working in Greenville with various mixed-use development projects as an asset he can use to provide support for the downtown development director. “I can work with them and provide support for them, not only with expertise but also in-kind services as well,” Lockamy said. “It’s great working together with those types of relationships,” he said. “Anything I can do to help I certainly will.”