Earlier this month, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors held their annual retreat, where they heard from several experts aligned with Golden LEAF’s priority areas, received updates on the progress of the strategic plan implementation, and revisited some of the strategic plan outcomes.
Job Creation and Economic Investment
The Board heard from Tom Barkin, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Mr. Barkin reviewed major economic issues of the past year such as disruptions to supply chains, inflation, unemployment and labor force participation, the effect of federal stimulus, and ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. He also provided insight into potential challenges and opportunities for 2022. I invited him to participate in an episode of Critical Conversations, where he discussed many of the same issues. The Board also received an update on venture capital investing from Edwin Poston, General Partner and Co Founder and Matt Rittenmeyer, Partner of TrueBridge Capital Partners.
The Board heard from Adrian Percy, the recently appointed Executive Director of the North Carolina State Plant Sciences Initiative, and Richard Linton, Dean of the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences about the Plant Sciences Initiative. Dr. Percy shared his vision for how the Plant Science Initiative will benefit farmers across the state. Dean Linton discussed some of the opportunities that the Plant Sciences Initiative will provide for the state in this edition of Critical Conversations. I will be talking with Adrian Percy in next month’s edition of Critical Conversations that will be in the February 10th bimonthly newsletter. The Board also had the opportunity to hear from Mohamed Ahmedna, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University and Richard Bonanno, Associate Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina State University about the challenges and opportunities for farmers in North Carolina.
The Board heard from Mark Poarch, President of the North Carolina Community Colleges Presidents’ Association about how the recently passed state budget is affecting the North Carolina Community Colleges. Dr. Poarch also addressed ongoing challenges in recruiting students and providing successful workforce training programs. I discussed some of the opportunities and challenges with Dr. Poarch in a recent episode of Critical Conversations. The Board also heard some of the challenges and opportunities facing small, rural community colleges from Greg McLeod, President of Edgecombe Community College. Dr. McLeod also shared the story of a recipient of the Golden LEAF Scholarship and what the funds have enabled her to accomplish in her time at ECC.
Community Competitiveness and Capacity
The Board heard from Steve Yost, President of North Carolina’s Southeast, and Vann Rogerson, President of the NCEast Alliance, about challenges and opportunities in economic development in eastern North Carolina
Strategic Plan Implementation
The Board received an update on the implementation of the strategic plan. The Golden LEAF strategic plan was designed to be reviewed on a yearly basis. Staff reported strong progress on several goals outlined in the plan as well as opportunities for future action on others. As part of this revision, the Board is continuing to focus efforts on three priority funding areas, Job Creation and Economic Investment, Workforce Preparedness, and Agriculture, through our primary funding programs of Open Grant and the Community-Based Grants Initiative. The funding area previously known as “Community Competitiveness, Capacity, and Vitality” will be refocused as “Community Competitiveness and Capacity” and will be implemented through targeted strategic initiatives. All initiatives will be announced on our website and through the newsletter.
The Golden LEAF Board and staff have added or expanded programs since the adoption of the strategic plan in February 2021. We look forward to continuing to work to accomplish the goals of the Golden LEAF’s Strategic Priorities for fiscal year 2022-2026, which are:
- To increase job creation and economic investment in rural, economically distressed, and tobacco-dependent communities
- To improve workforce preparedness in rural, economically distressed, and tobacco-dependent communities
- To increase the value of North Carolina’s agriculture industry
- To improve the competitiveness and capacity of targeted communities
- To have, and be recognized for, excellence in organizational collaboration, innovation, and impact