Lockamy: 'A lot of potential' for growth
By Jon Hawley
Monday, September 17, 2018
There's “a lot of potential” for economic growth in Pasquotank County and Elizabeth City, the area’s new incoming economic developer said in an interview last week.
Christian Lockamy also discussed how he'll help realize that potential.
Elizabeth City and Pasquotank officials announced Lockamy’s hiring last week as the new director of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission. He succeeds Wayne Harris, who retired in June.
Lockamy, the acting manager of the Greenville Office of Economic Development, starts in Elizabeth City-Pasquotank on Oct. 15. He’ll be paid $82,500 annually, a city official said.
Lockamy, 43, indicated the reason he sought the economic developer’s job here was spurred by a decision by the city of Greenville and Pitt County to merge economic development agencies. While he would have had a future in a combined agency, he said he was looking for advancement.
“To be honest, after being there 15 years, I really wanted to be a director,” Lockamy said.
He also knows and likes the Elizabeth City area, he said. Lockamy noted he lived in Camden County back in the late 1970s when his father, Al Lockamy, was a principal in the Camden County Schools.
Lockamy said his family still has ties to the area, and he often travels through it. So he knows there’s opportunity here to seize, he said.
“I've been familiar with the area for a lot of years and I thought it has a lot of potential,” Lockamy said.
Lockamy said local officials haven't yet briefed him on active, confidential business prospects — that will come once he starts next month, he said.
However, he said he sees potential in aerospace businesses and other companies who'd tap into Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City, as well as the city's proximity to Norfolk.
Lockamy also agreed with Harris' prior assessment of Elizabeth City-Pasquotank: that it's appealing to various small- to mid-sized manufacturers who consider both business factors and quality of life in deciding where to locate. That means recreation and tourism are important to promote as well, he said. Lockamy said he expects to coordinate his efforts with those of the city-county's Tourism Development Authority.
In finding business prospects for the city and county, Lockamy said communication with the N.C. Department of Commerce is critical. When businesses want to come to North Carolina, they often start with Commerce officials, who direct them to communities with the characteristics they're looking for, he said.
Noting his background in planning and geographic information systems, Lockamy also said he'll study the city and county's marketing, development-related reports and studies, zoning and demographics to help guide economic development strategy.
Lockamy also said networking and travel will be important to his job. He said that'll likely include attending trade shows in the Tidewater area, and periodically visiting Commerce officials in Raleigh. He already has relationships at Commerce, he noted.
Though Lockamy has his own ideas about economic development, he also said he’ll work as directed by the EDC's board of commissioners.
According to his LinkedIn page, Lockamy served as a radioman second class in the U.S. Navy from 1995-99, leaving the service to enroll in East Carolina University. He graduated from ECU in 2002 with a bachelor of science degree in urban and regional planning, and started his municipal career in New Bern as a GIS technician.
He joined the city of Greenville in July 2003, working in planning until focusing on economic development in 2013. According to his LinkedIn page, he became research manager in August 2013, then a senior economic developer in 2017 and acting manager this April.
In his last six years at Greenville, Lockamy said city officials wanted the city more involved in economic development, and he helped build the office “from the ground up.” He also said he helped secure more than $1 million in grants for small businesses that created dozens of jobs.