The economic and business successes of 2019 were hailed during joint meeting of Lee County, Sanford and Broadway leaders Thursday.

More than 50 people gathered at the McSwain Extension Center for the All Boards Meeting and heard reports presented by the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, the Tourism Development Authority and Raleigh Exec Jetport.

“This is so we know where we stand each year,” said Kirk Bradley, chair of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, who presided at the event. “We had a lot of positive things happen in 2019.”

One of the highlights was a 90-second commercial featuring Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, highlighting the natural beauty of Lee County and the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School.

The commercial will begin airing in March during episodes of Fishing University television show which airs on three television stations, according to Kevin Brown, chair of the Tourism Authority board.

He also gave out colorful brochures and handouts that highlight Sanford’s downtown, festivals and other sites. They will be placed in state Welcome Centers along the interstates to pique tourists’ curiosity.

The larger handouts will be included in packets distributed at conferences, he said.

“Some of these assets are our best kept secrets and we’re here to remedy this,” Brown said.

Bob Heuts, director of the Raleigh Executive Jetport, reported on its continued growth, including a recently completed terminal. The airport on Rod Sullivan Road serves general aviation. No commercial airlines operate from the airport.

“We have been and are preparing for growth,” Heuts said.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is focusing on serving only commercial airlines and was pushing out general aviation needs, he said.

“RDU is changing,” Heuts said. “When they do, that helps us. It drives general aviation to us.”

Of course, growth means additional needs, he said, which include larger hangars and a fire-suppression system. Heuts urged leaders to consider how they want the land around the airport developed in the future.

Michael Smith, SAGA’s executive director, spoke of Pfizer’s plans to expand; landing the Bharat Forge Aluminum plant, which will bring 460 jobs; and another as-yet undisclosed project still in the works.

He praised the city and county for incentives they provided to bring development to the centrally located county. Smith also gave credit to Gov. Roy Cooper and state officials who helped with the projects.

“2019 was an amazing year,” Smith said. “It’s really been a remarkable run. This put (Sanford and Lee County) on the map in a very dramatic way.”

Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary can be reached at 919-718-1219.

Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary can be reached at 919-718-1219.