Last updated: March 26. 2014 12:24PM - 414 Views
By Janna Bass Contributing columnist



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In partnership with the Sampson County Economic Development Commission, the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to the Wake-up Sampson County Economic Development Breakfast. I encourage you to join us on Friday, April 11 as we discover a North Carolina economic development update from Secretary of Commerce Sharon Allred Decker and Dr. Patricia Mitchell, assistant secretary for Rural Economic Development.


Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory in January 2013, Secretary Decker brings more than 30 years of experience in business and commerce to the position. As stated on the NC Commerce website, “After graduating summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Decker spent more than 17 years with Duke Power Company, now Duke Energy. She began with the company in consumer services and moved rapidly through the ranks to become the youngest and first female vice president in Duke Power’s history. Her work at Duke Power led to the creation of its 24-hour customer service center, an organization that still serves as a model for the industry.


Decker left Duke Power as Chief Communications Officer to become the founding president of The Lynnwood Foundation, which was created to restore the Duke Mansion in Charlotte as a conference center, and to begin the William States Lee Leadership Institute. While at Lynnwood in 1998, she also served as the chair of the Charlotte Chamber and was named Charlotte Woman of the Year. She moved to Rutherfordton in 1999 to serve as president of the Doncaster division of Tanner Companies.


In 2004, she created and served as the CEO of the Tapestry Group, a non-profit that helps individuals lead healthy lives in body, mind and spirit. In addition to her work with Tapestry, Decker is wife to her husband, Bob, a mother of four, a lay pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a student at the Christopher White School of Divinity, completing her Master of Divinity Degree with a concentration in Spiritual Formation. She completed an internship last year as Director of Graduate Ministries for the Center for Christian Study in Charlottesville, Va., where she served as chaplain to students at the Darden School of Business and the UVA School of Law. She remains a member of the Board of the Center for Christian Study. Decker has served on the boards of three Fortune 500 companies.”


Also attending with Secretary Decker on April 11 is Dr. Patricia Mitchell. She was appointed assistant secretary for Rural Economic Development at the N.C. Department of Commerce on Sept. 13, 2013.


Mitchell oversees the newly created Rural Economic Development Division, which includes two of the programs being transferred from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. These programs provide assistance for building reuse and restoration, and water and sewer infrastructure. The Division of Community Assistance, NC Broadband, Main Street and the Appalachian Regional Commission will also be consolidated into the new Rural Division. Mitchell came to the Department of Commerce from a nine-year tenure in local economic development and county management. She holds the Certified Economic Developer distinction from the IEDC, and is an adjunct professor for Appalachian State and N.C. State universities.


Secretary Decker often says, economic development starts with the community and while the state does have a role, it takes a variety of individuals with vision and skills to accomplish successful economic development within a community. I’m looking forward to this economic development breakfast on Friday, April 11th at 8:00am in Heritage Hall at the Sampson County Exposition Center. For more information about this event or to RSVP, please call 910-592-6177 or e-mail info@clintonsampsonchamber.org.

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