TAKE 5: Partnership for Prosperity is moving forward

Jun. 21, 2014 @ 09:28 AM

This week, we Take 5 with Donnie Oldham, the president of Sanford Contractors, about the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity. Oldham is the chairman of the steering committee for SLCPP, the organization created in part by the planned merger of the Lee County Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce.

You’ve been leading the steering committee working toward formalizing the creation of the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity, the organization which results from the merger between the Lee County EDC and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce. How do things stand today?

The process for formalizing the SLCPP has moved along nicely. It has been a long and difficult process with a lot of moving parts but we are actually right on schedule. The support from the business community and the elected officials of Lee County, the City of Sanford and the Town of Broadway has made it possible to keep on track.

I would also like to thank the staff personnel of the local governments for their hard work in making this possible. We have also been blessed to have Chamber and EDC staff led by Bob Joyce and Crystal Morphis that have been willing to perform their regular responsibilities as well as the extra work it has taken to support the formation of this new entity. Crystal has been an invaluable part of this process as she, through her firm, Creative Economic Development, has served as our interim economic development director as well as helping us through this process.

And the status of the search for a new chief executive?

The partnership can announce today that we have hired our CEO to lead this organization. Rodger Sauls has been offered and accepted the leadership position.

We formed a search committee out of our steering committee to conduct the search and advertised nationally for the position. We received 82 applications and resumes from all over the United States. The committee narrowed this number to nine based on the resumes. We asked these candidates to submit a video interview to answer questions from the committee. We thought this process would give us a better idea of their personalities and enthusiasm than a phone interview would have.

After reviewing the video interviews we narrowed the candidates down to three for a face-to-face interview in front of the committee and we decided Roger was the candidate we wanted to hire. I think in the near future the citizens and businesses in Lee County will see in Rodger what we saw: a very capable, energetic and professional leader. (Editor’s note: see story in today’s Herald for more details.)

In the meantime, in the absence of a full-time CEO, one of the issues you’ve worked to address is the bond package for GKN Driveline, which the board of commissioners here in Lee County recently approved.

I was very pleased the Lee County commissioners agreed to support the package the EDC Board recommended that helped GKN make the decision to expand in Lee County. GKN has been in Lee County since the 1970s. It was one of our largest employers back then and I think by approving this package the board of commissioners is telling GKN that we want new jobs and we will support existing businesses that want to expand in Lee County.

Another current task is the fundraising campaign for the public/private partnership the SLCPP will become. Developer Kirk Bradley and recently-retired Central Carolina Hospital CEO Doug Doris are leading that effort. How’s that going?

Our fundraising campaign is going well. Kirk and Doug have done a great job leading the effort to raise funds for the new partnership. Anybody who knows Kirk knows that when he is charge of something it gets done and Doug has been great co-chairman. Doug has graciously given up a lot his time to attend meetings with potential investors as well as securing Central Carolina Hospital as our leading investor so far. The funds we are raising from the private sector are crucial to give the partnership the resources we need to become the dynamic organization we plan to be.

So what’s next?

In the next few weeks the community will see our CEO meeting with businesses and staff from the city, county and the Town of Broadway. We will be continuing to stand up the organization in preparation for a Jan. 1, 2015, start-up. One of the most important things the community will see is a branching out of the fundraising campaign. We want as many business and individuals as possible to be a part of this effort.