FLETCHER – Several business, civic, and educational leaders from across Western North Carolina were sworn in recently as new members of the AdvantageWest Board of Directors. Among them was Jason D. Lambert, an EBCI tribal member and director of the Division of Commerce for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, appointed by the president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate.
AdvantageWest is the regional economic development partnership serving the 23 westernmost counties of the state, including the Qualla Boundary. The nonprofit organization’s program of work focuses on advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship, the film industry, the green-tech and clean-energy economy, and agribusiness, to include the Blue Ridge Food Ventures food and natural products business incubator. AdvantageWest is headquartered adjacent to the Asheville Regional Airport at the center of the organization’s 10,000-square-mile service area.
Among its initiatives is the Certified Entrepreneurial Community® program, the first of its type in the country, developed by AdvantageWest to recognizecommunities as “entrepreneur ready.” The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is one of 10 communities in Western North Carolina that engaged in the rigorous five-step process, winning CEC designation in 2009.
The Board of Directors set AdvantageWest policy and programmatic priorities, adopt the annual budget of the corporation, and develop strategies for growth by engaging in long-range and strategic planning on behalf of the corporation. Directors assist in promoting economic development by working with fellow Board members and staff on activities that support the recruitment and retention of business and job growth in the service region. Members of the board of directors are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate.
Along with Lambert, the other new appointees to the AdvantageWest Board of Directors are:
· Dr. John Charles Boyd of Mitchell County, President of Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine
· Erik C. Brinke of Cherokee County, director of economic development for Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation in Murphy
· Timothy W. Ferris of Rutherford County, founder and owner of Blue Ridge Distilling Co., Inc. in Bostic
· Bruce Goforth, of Buncombe County, former member of the N.C. House representing the 115th District for nearly four terms, and founder and president of the general contracting company Goforth Builders in Asheville
· Terri King of Buncombe County, president and owner of Coldwell Banker King in Asheville
· Pamela Moody of Graham County, retired from Graham County Schools
· Robert Thomas “Tommy” Sofield, Jr., of Watauga County, president and owner of U.S. Buildings LLC in Boone
Officers and other members of the Board of Directors are:
- Chairman Tom Alexander, a construction consultant from Yancey County
- First Vice Chair Stephen Duncan, of Buncombe County, with Beverly-Hanks & Associates in Asheville
- Second Vice Chair Randy Banks, of Yancey County, with Mountain Air Development Corp. in Burnsville
- Board Treasurer Shirley Hise, of Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce in Spruce Pine
- Corporate Secretary Steve Odom, of Graham County, with Odom Trucking Company, Inc. in Robbinsville
- Mark Burrows, with Transylvania County Economic Development Commission in Brevard
- Bert Hall, of Wilkes County, with Wilkes Steel Inc. in North Wilkesboro
- Larry Kernea, of Cherokee County, with Murphy Electric Power Board in Murphy
- Vince Rees, of Henderson County, with Mountain 1st Bank & Trust in Hendersonville
- Lobbyist and former N.C. legislator Wilma Sherrill, of Buncombe County
- Paul Szurek, of Buncombe County, with Biltmore Farms, LLC in Asheville
- Wayne McDevitt, of Marshall in Madison County, the ex-officio member representing the N.C. Board of Education
For more information on AdvantageWest, visit www.advantagewest.com or call (828) 687-7234. AdvantageWest is on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/AdvantageWest and can be followed on Twitter at @AdvantageWest.
– Advantage West