Lockamy hired as economic developer


Christian Lockamy


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, September 7, 2018

Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County’s new business and industrial recruiter has roots in eastern North Carolina and currently lives only a couple of hours away.

Christian Lockamy, Greenville's acting economic development manager, has been hired to be the new developer for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Economic Development Commission, City Manager Rich Olson said in a press release Thursday.

Lockamy, who will be paid $82,500 a year, reports to work on Oct. 15, Olson said.

According to the press release, Lockamy grew up in Swan Quarter and once resided in Camden County. For the past 15 years, he has served in variety of positions for the city of Greenville, the press release states.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Lockamy holds a bachelor of science degree in urban and regional planning from East Carolina University.

Lockamy succeeds Wayne Harris, who retired in June after 11 years as Elizabeth City-Pasquotank’s chief business and industry recruiter.

Olson, who served on the panel that interviewed Lockamy, said the newly hired economic director understands the regionalism concept and will be someone who “definitely” will work with other economic development directors in the area.

Olson noted Lockamy's father was a school principal in Camden County and that Lockamy himself served in the Navy in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area.

“So, he's familiar with Elizabeth City,” Olson said. “He knew a lot of the history of the area, what makes us tick. He knew what types of industries we would be recruiting, saw a great asset in the Coast Guard and spoke very highly of the educational institutions and how we need to integrate them into economic development.”

Olson said Lockamy also understands the value of the future Interstate 87, “and how that will change the dynamics of our area.”

Reached Thursday afternoon, Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett, who also served on the search panel, said he believes Lockamy was hired because of his experience, knowledge of northeastern North Carolina, and positive recommendations from economic development officials such as NCEast Alliance President John Chaffee.

"He just really stood out compared to the rest of the pool," Hammett said of Lockamy.

Few of the applicants had experience working in North Carolina, so that put Lockamy ahead of the pack, Hammett said.

"And then he interviewed extremely well," Hammett said.

As part of the interview process, Lockamy gave a presentation on how he would market the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank community, Hammett said. Lockamy talked about the community's assets, including its waterways and the U.S. Coast Guard Base, he said.

Lockamy also told interviewers he thinks Elizabeth City-Pasquotank needs a strategic plan to determine its strengths and weaknesses and to come up with a brand, Hammett said.

Noting he himself is a relative newcomer to Pasquotank — he’s been county manager for only about half a year — Hammett believes one key thing the community is missing is "a direction."

"What's our brand? What should our focus be?" he asked. “You've got to have a goal and some direction in order to accomplish anything."

Hammett believes Lockamy can help Elizabeth City-Pasquotank do a better job of finding a focus and setting a direction.

"I just think he's going to be a very good fit and a great asset for our community," he said.

Lockamy wasn’t the Economic Development Commission’s original finalist for the job, however.

The commission’s first search for a new director netted two finalists, neither of whom were hired. Hammett said one finalist declined to accept the job while the other wanted both a contract and a benefits package commission members considered “excessive.”

Hammett said the commission’s second search netted "a fairly large applicant pool." He believes there were about 32 applications. The search committee narrowed their search to four finalists but decided Lockamy was the only candidate they would interview.

Hammett said Lockamy was interviewed on Aug. 28 and offered the job the next day.