NCEDA honors economic development winners at annual conference

Large Market Deal of the Year goes to Michael Smith president of Chatham County Economic Development Corporation


WILMINGTON — Economic development professionals across North Carolina were honored for their contributions to the economic development profession and their communities at the North Carolina Economic Development Association (NCEDA) 2023 Annual Conference. 

The awards distinguish members making significant and valued contributions above and beyond expectations in their areas. The association recognized the award winners at the Annual Conference in Wilmington on June 28, 2023.

NCEDA honored seven members in their annual awards ceremony:

2023 Large Market Deal of the Year: 

Michael Smith, president of Chatham County Economic Development Corporation

The Wolfspeed project in Chatham County was led by the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation transforming the Chatham-Siler Advanced Manufacturing Site into a $5 billion investment with 1800 jobs for the county. 

2023 Emerging Leader of the Year:  

Charla Duncan, community & economic development director for Warren County

Duncan was a key player in the announcement of the Glen Raven expansion, bringing $80 million in capital investments and 205 jobs, landing the largest business expansion project in the county in thirty-plus years. She secured $3.5 million in grant funding related to development projects and economic development in her community — ranging from utility infrastructure to business expansion to downtown revitalization. 

 2023 Small Market Deal of the Year: 

Burton Hodges, executive director with the Transylvania Economic Alliance

The $55 million Pisgah Labs expansion in Transylvania County is the largest in Transylvania’s history, and the lab is on pace to be the county’s largest manufacturing employer. 

2023 Mid-Size Market Deal of the Year: 

Peter Bishop, director of economic development with the City of Burlington, and 

David Putnam, senior director for economic development of the Alamance Chamber of Commerce

Steri-Tek, a California-based medical and pharmaceutical sterilization company seeking this first East Coast facility, is coming to Burlington and Alamance County, resulting in a $71 million investment and creating 50 jobs. 

2023 Economic Developer of the Year Award: 

Marvin Price, executive vice president of Greensboro Chamber of Commerce

Throughout his career, Price has created $4.7 billion in capital investment and 5,290 jobs across Greensboro and Guilford County, including Toyota, Marshall Aerospace, Guerrilla RF, LT Apparel, Boom Supersonic and many more. His proven history of successful collaboration across public and private sectors driving strategic partnerships, program development, marketing, advocacy and ROI for the region, has been a critical factor in his success. His efforts have also contributed to industrial expansions, new site development, and a new workforce development initiative in Greensboro, resulting in an outstanding year for Guilford County. 

2023 President’s Award: 

Donny Hicks, executive director of Gaston County Economic Development

Hicks was awarded the President’s Award for his outstanding career in economic development in Gaston County. A veteran economic developer with 39 years of experience, he worked hard for the people and communities of Gaston County to help evolve the community from its textile roots to the diversified and thriving economy today.   

“These awards help NCEDA to recognize economic developers across the state for their hard work and dedication in communities large and small in advancing the economic well-being of the residents of North Carolina,” Chris Platé, president of NCEDA, said.  

Click here ( for photos of honorees.

economic development, nceda, business