By Steve Reed
SELMA — The chamber is still called the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce. But the organization’s marketing brand is Triangle East.
Chamber President and CEO Mike Mancuso unveiled the brand at the recent State of the Region luncheon at the Sysco Raleigh plant in Selma.
The marketing theme for Triangle East is “Bringing Communities Together: Connect, Grow and Prosper.”
Mancuso said he’s worked with the chamber’s 45-member economic development committee to develop this concept.
“We’ve rejoined the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce,” said Mancuso. “We’ve been missing from the table for two decades. It was once said that if Smithfield and Chapel Hill could agree on anything, it would move the world.”
Mancuso said people need to know how to find Johnston County and its cities and towns.
“What connects us? Who are we?” said Mancuso. “We need to find the ties that bind us.”
According the U.S. Census Bureau, Johnston County has an estimated workforce of 28,985 people and 20,145 jobs.
Nearly half the wages, 41 percent, are between $7.81 to $20.83 per hour. More than half of the employed workforce, 54.5 percent, are ages 30-54 and the largest industry sector is retail/hospitality/food service at 31.2 percent.
Health care is the second-largest industry sector at 14.2 percent and education is the third-largest at 12.5 percent.
Mancuso said Johnston County is part of the third-fastest-growing metropolitan statistical area in the United States and that Johnston needs commuter rail service connecting it with the Triangle and Research Triangle Park.
“The rail would give us access to a trained and growing workforce,” said Mancuso. “We would provide the benefits of a Triangle location with lower startup and overhead costs. It’s all about collaborative communities focused on the common good.”
One of Johnston County’s strongest assets is its location, said Mancuso.
“We have full access to the East Coast in about eight hours,” said Mancuso. “We’re within 35 minutes of the state capital, 40 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and 15 minutes from the Johnston County Airport.”
From all directions, Mancuso said Johnston County has Class A rail service, interstates and major highways and good weather with an average high temperature of 71 degrees.
Mancuso said that, to the outside world, Johnston County is but a pin on a map.
“We need to tell our story and talk about our unique and wonderful towns,” said Mancuso. “We need to tell the rich stories of our people, businesses, history, amenities, attractions and infrastructure.”
Mancuso said the county and municipalities need to show through collaborative efforts that Triangle East stands together.
The Triangle East name will be formally launched in the fall of 2019, said Mancuso.
“We will build a marketing campaign with a website, print media, video refresh and new roadshow materials and an execution plan,” said Mancuso. “The campaign will be overseen by a chamber economic development subcommittee.”
Mancuso said the campaign would target business, industry, office and residential developments, along with supply chains, transportation, retail and entertainment.