Name: Laurence E. Lilley, Jr.
City of Residence: Williamston
County of Residence: Martin County
Employed by: Lilley International
Appointed by: Governor
Appointment Date: April 2021
What are activities or leadership roles you provide to the community?
I have served as the chair of the Martin County Committee of 100, chair of the Martin County Economic Development Corp., and as a trustee and vice chair of Martin Community College. I am an active member and elder of First Christian Church in Williamston.
What is your connection to rural tobacco dependent or economically distressed areas?
Born and raised in Martin County, I returned to our family owned International Harvester farm equipment and truck dealership after college in 1976. Our business is directly dependent on agriculture and forestry for much of its revenue. Except for small pockets, our region has lost manufacturing jobs, economic diversification, and population over the past 45 years.
How does your personal and/or professional life compliment Golden LEAF’s mission and priorities?
I am immersed in the community and local economy. I have a lifetime of experience in trying to grow several businesses in this environment as well as working with economic development entities and Golden LEAF to increase opportunities. In spite of the challenges, our family has been blessed. I have an obligation and a desire to serve in a capacity that offers real potential for improving the lives of citizens in rural counties.
What are you most excited about seeing happen in economic development in rural NC in the next 5-10 years?
We have to be able to attract investment to rural North Carolina. Incentives are not effective if we don’t have a prepared workforce and adequate infrastructure.
Broadband is what electricity was 100 years ago. It has to get done.
We must improve educational outcomes from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Our investments in secondary and post- secondary education are undermined by a lack of foundational skills.
What do you want people to know about the Golden LEAF Foundation?
It is a powerful tool with the potential to improve the opportunities available to rural North Carolinians. However, the needs are so great its resources must be employed in conjunction with other governmental and philanthropic efforts to see tangible results.