Three Wake County Leaders Honored at Annual NCEDA Conference



The North Carolina Economic Development Association hosted their annual conference recently, gathering economic development professionals from across the state for education, networking and celebration.

During the conference, NCEDA recognized several leaders for their accomplishments over the past year. Our own Sam Rauf, Senior Economic Development Manager, was named the 2022 Emerging Leader of the Year. Prior to joining the WCED team, Sam worked for the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, helping to secure historic VinFast project, among others.

VinFast, an electric vehicle company headquartered in Los Angeles, California, announced that it will establish a new facility in Chatham County. VinFast is part of Vingroup, the largest privately held company in Vietnam. The facility will be the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to locate in North Carolina.  The facility will produce both electric vehicles and batteries.

The announcement makes North Carolina history as the largest economic development project ever announced in the state and as the state’s first OEM facility. OEMs are unique opportunities in economic development for their beneficial multiplier effect on the local economy. Chatham County has worked to build upon the growth in the Research Triangle and Triad regions and benefits from a robust existing workforce and excellent quality of life. Sam’s contributions will continue to have a positive impact on the region for years to come.

NCEDA introduced a new award category, Deal of the Year, that seeks to recognize outstanding projects announced in 2021. The award acknowledges the project leader, but also the supporting team members and organizations that contributed to the success of the project. WCED Assistant Executive Director Ashley Cagle took home the honor for Large Market Deal of the Year for the Apple Project.

In April 2021, Apple announced its plans to build an east coast hub in Raleigh, bringing 3,000+jobs and an investment of $1 billion. This commitment further solidifies Wake County and the greater Research Triangle region’s position as a global hub for tech talent and innovation. Ashley Cagle served as the primary project manager, bringing together numerous entities to close the deal.

Apple’s impact will be felt statewide. Apple is poised to be a strong community partner. The company has committed $100 million to support schools and education initiatives in the Triangle region, along with adding more than $110 million to the state’s infrastructure Development Fund – Utility Account across 80 counties. Once the campus is up and running, Apple’s investments are expected to generate more than $1.5 billion in economic benefits annually for North Carolina.

Irena Krstanovic, Director of Economic Development for the Town of Holly Springs, and a close partner of Wake County Economic Development was recognized as Economic Developer of the Year. 2021 was a huge year for Holly Springs, solidifying the town’s position as a leading hub for the life science industry. In March 2021, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies announced 725 jobs and a $2B investment. In July, Amgen followed up with the announcement of 350 jobs and an investment of $550M.

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding leaders!


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