New Name, Renewed Focus
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
Regional Development Services has a new name—Office of Economic Development—and a renewed focus on improving the region and the state.
“The staff and I worked together and also polled people off campus to find out how much people knew about our office,” said Ted Morris, who came to ECU in June as associate vice chancellor of economic development and director of the office.
“What we found out was that people didn’t really understand and know what regional development was and how the university is more than just the region,” he said.
The staff looked at similar offices at universities across the state to see how they were branded as well. The new name is more in line with other UNC-system economic development offices.
“The UNC system and the chancellor are putting a renewed commitment to economic development, and the new name reflects that,” Morris said.
The Office of Economic Development serves as front door to the university for industry, government and communities coming to ECU to access services, Morris said.
“We work to link groups outside of the campus with the folks at ECU who actually do the research and the work that can help these communities,” he said.
“Our definition (of economic development) includes environmental sustainability, leadership capacity, health and welfare, education, economic vitality of communities, and the university contributes to all of that and much more,” Morris said.
And ECU will be more proactive at bringing higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs to the region, he added.
The OED developed five strategies for its initiatives and partnerships:
• Implement economic development strategies that target ECU’s research, education, and outreach enterprises on high-priority needs.
• Catalyze higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs and new investments via targeted business recruitment and innovation-driven job creation and retention.
• Lead collaborative efforts to create sustainable, inclusive models for regional prosperity and strengthen North Carolina.
• Foster significant advances in kindergarten through high school education to drive student achievement and produce a local, globally-competitive workforce.
• Partner with communities to build their leadership capacity, physical infrastructure, cultural vitality, environmental sustainability, and health and welfare thereby improving the quality of life for all residents.