Promoting economic development and providing premier resources for members, the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce is helping to build a competitive workforce and vibrant business climate.
The Chamber and Dare County have created a unique partnership to support economic development in the community and region.
“We’ve entered into a contract with the county, leveraging the strength of both organizations to market our area and handle economic development,” says Karen Brown, Chamber president & CEO. “The Chamber is taking on a larger role in growing our community, including responding to new business prospects, cataloging available sites and buildings and launching a new section on our website dedicated to economic development and demographics.”
The partnership is yielding fast results. A new Dare County company is adding jobs and more than $1 million of investment to the area and an Australian company that has a product important to the boat building industry has expressed interest in making eastern North Carolina its home.
“We’re meeting with individual business owners, gathering demographics and assessing skills gaps in the community, and responding with training that bridges the gaps,” says Brown. “We even help with things like disaster planning, succession or financial planning for example—all highly confidential—by connecting them with professional, third party resources.”
Moreover, the Chamber is helping businesses capitalize on small batch and artisan products made exclusively in the region, adding value and creating recognition in the new OBXMADE branding program.
“We’re bringing attention to our creative economy and letting everyone know we produce exquisite products from jewelry, pottery, art, baked goods and rum, to the full spectrum of creative items found only in Dare and Currituck counties and Ocracoke Island,” says Brown. “We’re managing the legal work to secure the trademark for the OBXMADE brand.”
Raising the bar for the community as a whole and creating an excellent quality of life, the Chamber’s Leadership OBX program is developing a pipeline of fresh talent and inspired business leaders with deep community connections.
“The concept is to expose them to government, business and nonprofits during the course of the six-month program and teach them about the community,” says Brown. “We’re graduating our fourth class this year. My personal hope is that during the six months, they find something that really speaks to them, inspiring them to pursue their dreams in our community.” l By Cathy Cuthbertson
Bridge Projects Ease Commutes
An architectural masterpiece spanning pristine waters, the new Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, crossing the Oregon Inlet between Hatteras and Bodie islands, will soon be complete.
“Its sheer presence is a wonderful thing to see,” says Allen Moran, member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation. “It’s going to be a great asset to the state, the county and the folks on Hatteras Island. Construction will be complete in 2019.”
The new bridge replaces the existing one, and for commercial fishermen, sportsmen and anglers, it greatly enhances safety.
“It’s higher than the old bridge and has nine navigational spans, 300 feet wide, so there’s much more room for fisherman to cross under the bridge,” says Moran. “It’s a huge improvement.”
The Bonner Bridge is the first in North Carolina to use stainless reinforcing steel, adding protection against saltwater corrosion and reducing maintenance costs.
Another new bridge will soon be serving the Outer Banks too. Groundbreaking will begin shortly on a 2.4-mile portion of state Highway 12, building a bridge to replace a portion of the road prone to breaches during storms. The “jug handle” project spans from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe. The targeted completion date is 2020.
By Cathy Cuthbertson