ROCKINGHAM — Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Rockingham mayor and state senator Gene McLaurin to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
The EDP works with public and private entities to attract, maintain and promote business in the state. The partnership is currently working to entice Amazon to build its second headquarters in North America with a $92,000 ad campaign, according to the News and Observer.
McLaurin said he will be a “strong voice” on the 17-member board promoting the interests of rural communities in his new role.
“Rural North Carolina needs all the attention it can get and the governor certainly agrees. He wants a North Carolina that works for everyone,” McLaurin said. “I can assure folks in our part of the state that we’re going to make sure that our area is not forgotten about. It’s one that’s near and dear to my heart and one that I’ve enjoyed not only working in but serving in public office.”
McLaurin will serve as an expert in manufacturing with the partnership, according to the governor’s office. He is currently the president of Swink-Quality Oil Company and he managed the Richmond County branch of the international manufacturing company, Total Lubricants USA, for 27 years.
He said the biggest problems he sees facing rural communities are workforce development and education, as well as building and maintaining rural infrastructure.
“From a recruitment standpoint, we have to promote (the rural part) of the state,” McLaurin said. “Our big cities are doing great but we have to make sure that rural communities are also a priority.”
He has worked in business in Richmond County since 1980, served as mayor of Rockingham from 1997 to 2012 and as state senator for the 25th District in 2012. He was defeated in the 2014 election by Tom McInnis.
While in the senate, McLaurin supported the creation of the EDP in the fall 2014 under the McCrory administration.
McLaurin worked with Cooper during his campaign for governor on the state finance committee, when they discussed the need for rural economic development. He also served on the commerce committee in the Senate while Cooper was attorney general.
“I’m grateful to Governor Cooper for giving me the opportunity to serve in this role,” McLaurin said. “I have tremendous confidence in him and I’ll be actively involved in working with the partnership.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]