Interim economic head seeks engagement
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Newly appointed as Greenville’s acting economic development manager, Christian Lockamy said engaging the business community is critical to the city’s continued economic growth.
Lockamy, a senior economic developer for the city, was promoted to his new position this week. Economic Developer Roger Johnson left the city in late March to take a position in Albemarle County, Virginia.
Lockamy’s new duties will be focused primarily on helping the City Council, mayor and city manager carry out policy objectives in relation to economic development. He said he was excited about his new role, and believes that Greenville is on a path to continued economic success.
He said one of the most important aspects for seeing economic growth is support of existing businesses.
“As far as my personal goals and agendas, I think engaging the business community is extremely important in what I want to do and how I want to carry out the strategy,” he said. “We cannot do economic development in this community without engaging our developers and engaging the entire community and working with them to achieve our goals.”
Lockamy started with the city in 2003 as a geographic information specialist in the city planning department. When the city formed its economic development office in 2013, Lockamy came into the department as the research manager, before holding different roles as a business liaison and developer in the five years since.
In his experience, engaging local businesses with the other facets of the community and involving them in the long-range planning has been crucial to smart growth.
“I think we need to involve these guys in our strategy. I think if we sit in our offices as government employees and don’t get out and don’t talk to those guys and don’t bring them into the fold, there’s a lot of things that we’re going to miss,” he said.
“They’re the local experts on a variety of subjects, and so I’m not saying we give them the key to the city and say, ‘Here go, do this and we won’t have any input in it,’ but I think it’s real real important to engage our business community in what we’re doing.”
Lockamy said he generally believes the city’s economic goals should be as expansive as possible.
“If you asked me what I think we need to do for economic development here, I think we need to think broader. I think we need to think more globally about our economy and about being the hub for the east,” he said. “If we think about big ticket items like future land for industrial expansion and maybe even interstate designation, those are the type of things that are going to be game changers for our community. “
The city will conduct a search for a permanent director to replace Johnson while Lockamy serves in the interim role. He said the city is just beginning to look into the search and hiring process and what candidates might be out there.
He said when the time comes, he would be interested in applying, but is committed to working for the economic growth of the city in any capacity.
“I’ve put a lot of time in with the city; I would certainly be interested in helping the city in some form or fashion related to economic development,” he said. “Whether that’s in the head role, I don't know. I love the city, I love working here and I would like to be able to stay here and add value in some form or fashion.”
Contact Seth Thomas Gulledge at firstname.lastname@example.org and 329-9579.