The Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) honored Chatham County’s Wolfspeed project with the 2023 Community Economic Development Award for the 40,001-100,000 population category.
The award recognizes outstanding communities for their efforts in advancing economic viability through economic and community development programs. The winners were announced Tuesday, August 15th at the SEDC Annual Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. Phillip Thompson, EDC Project Manager, accepted the award on behalf of the EDC.
The project was scored using five criteria: innovativeness, transferability, community commitment and leverage, measured objectives, and secondary benefits. As the single largest investment ever announced in North Carolina history, the project scored especially high for measured objectives and innovation.
In the award nomination, the EDC highlighted the partnerships and planning that helped to make the prospective project a reality. “North Carolina economic development officials committed to finding a site in the state and found the answer in Chatham County.” The submission continues, “The massive utility requirements required leaders from the town, county, region, and state to create a regional solution to meet the needs of Wolfspeed. A partnership was formed with neighboring Randolph County to provide essential water capacity and with significant funding help from the North Carolina General Assembly and the Golden Leaf Foundation.”
Ultimately, the project announcement made in September of 2022 was $5 billion in investment and 1,800 full time jobs helped to seal the year as the biggest in economic development history for North Carolina. When totaled with the earlier VinFast announcement of $4 billion in investment and 7,500 jobs, Chatham announced a single NC county record-setting $9 billion in investment and 9,800 jobs in 2022.
“Our office is honored to be the recipient of this award from SEDC,” EDC President Michael Smith stated. “Current and previous EDC staff worked diligently alongside with partners from around the county, region and state to bring this project to Chatham County, and we’re grateful for the recognition we’ve received from our industry. We know that this project means positive things for the citizens of Chatham County and for many others across our Central North Carolina location, and we look forward to the next steps in this dramatic and region changing moment in our history.”