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Clayton Welcomes New Economic Development Director

04/14/2020

Working full-time. 
Trying to sell your house. 
Scrambling to find a new one. 
Moving your entire family across the country for a new job. 

That’s a lot to tackle in normal times, but Patrick Pierce has managed to safely pull it off amidst a global pandemic.

The native of Washington state, his wife and two young daughters have safely reached the East Coast and Pierce officially started his new role as the Town of Clayton’s Economic Development Director Monday morning– in the middle of a Tornado Watch!  

“It’s definitely been an unnerving way to make a new start, but my family feels so blessed to have this opportunity because we’re seeing how coronavirus is forcing so many people to miss or cancel once-in-a-lifetime moments – weddings, birthdays, funerals, births – and that makes us realize how very lucky we are,” said Pierce, who drove a packed minivan with the family dog all the way from the Seattle area three weeks ago. “We have been contemplating a move closer to family and friends in the Midwest and East Coast for some time now and this seemed like a great fit for us —rumor has it that the sun is actually visible here between November and March.” 

While he’s leaving the notorious gray skies of Seattle behind, Pierce knows dark clouds are hanging over Clayton’s economy. 

“The economic fallout of COVID-19 is becoming more apparent each day, so as we continue to grapple with the challenges, Patrick will be a huge resource on our team,” said Town Manager Adam Lindsay. “He’s been on the job a day, but he’s actually been on the front lines for weeks – up until a week and a half ago, he was  serving as the head of a large economic alliance that was consumed with working to provide resources to the community and businesses in the hard-hit Northwest. That’s valuable knowledge he’s bringing to Clayton.” 

Ribbon Cutting Snohomish CountyBased in Everett, Washington, about 25 minutes north of Seattle, Pierce served for 4 years leading a team of 13 as the President and CEO of the Economic Alliance Snohomish County, a $2.2 million nonprofit formed as a merger between the county’s Economic Development Council and two area Chambers of Commerce. In his time, he helped attract more than $150 million in foreign and domestic investment in aerospace, manufacturing, distribution and life sciences and successfully advocated for more than $1 billion in public dollars for highway and transit projects. Similar to Clayton’s biopharmaceutical hub, Pierce collaborated with medical research and development companies in his area. 

Pierce was one of 34 qualified applicants from across the country vying to lead the Town of Clayton’s Economic Development Office, along with Economic Development Specialist Jennifer Gallimore, who joined the Town in June. Selected by town leaders as one of four finalists, Pierce survived a grueling day-long assessment and interview process that involved numerous members of the community helping to find the best fit for this critical role, including representatives from the Clayton Downtown Development Association, Johnston County’s Economic Development Office, Johnston County Community College, and the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

"It’s great to see that Patrick comes to Clayton with experience leading an organization that was a merging of an Economic Development Council and two chambers of commerce, because those are the partnerships we are forging here too – the Chamber, the businesses and the Town and County share the same goals of building economic vitality,” said Dana Wooten, the President/CEO of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. “I could tell during the hiring process that he had a passion for building relationships and I really look forward to working with him.”

“As Chair of the Clayton Chamber’s Economic Development Committee, I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the selection process for the Town’s new Economic Development Director” said Jim Perricone, a Clayton property management professional.  “It reflects the ongoing collaboration between the Town and the business community. Patrick is an outstanding choice given his knowledge, experience and his organizational and interpersonal skills. He will be a great addition to local and regional economic development efforts and I look forward to collaborating with him.”

Pierce agrees, the COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the importance of the partnerships amongst the private, public and nonprofit sectors and he looks forward to cultivating further in the Clayton community. He worked with the community college in his hometown of Everett, Washington, and joined forces with government partners to advocate for bus rapid transit, light rail and other transportation projects. Before taking the reins at the Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Pierce led the Economic Development Department at the Puget Sound Regional Council, the Seattle region's combined federally-designated Economic Development District, Metropolitan Planning Organization and Council of Governments, where he helped develop and implement a five-year regional economic development strategy. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from University of Washington. He said what drew him to Economic Development was really the chance to make a difference. 

“I can work on issues that directly impact the community where I live – helping a business, working to create jobs that maybe my kids will have, creating places and atmosphere in a downtown that makes people want to be there, partnering with a global company making medicine that could save someone’s life – that’s what drew me to this job,” said Pierce. “The people I met during my interview seemed to want to be part of that too – really good people wanting to work together make their home better – and that’s a good team to be part of."

While it may be a bit before he can meet everyone in person, Pierce will work out of Town Hall at The Clayton Center in Downtown Clayton, which is temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. He can be reached at ppierce@TownofClaytonNC.org or 919-359-9386.

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