The new headquarters for UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development was dedicated Aug. 30, 2004.
Ribbon Cutting – From left: Dr. Collie Coleman, associate vice chancellor for outreach; Dr. Roger Brown, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; McDuffie Cummings, Pembroke town manager; Ronnie Hunt, CEO of Lumbee River Electric Membership; Sylvia Pate, Regional Center director; Dick Taylor, UNCP trustee; UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors; Sen. David Weinstein and Martha McLean, Congressman McItyre ’s office.
Located at COMtech, a nearby economic development incubator, it is the first building that UNCP has ever constructed off campus.
“This is more of a celebration,” said Chancellor Allen C. Meadors. “So many people in this room have done so much to make this possible. It is truly a joint effort of the University and federal, state and local governments.”
Seventh District U.S. Representative Mike McIntyre was one of the people who made the new office, conference and training center a reality.
“The positive economic development vision incorporated into this effort will indeed make a difference to the people of Southeastern North Carolina,” Rep. McIntyre said in a letter.
Congressman McIntyre and retired 7th District Congressman Charles G. Rose III before him facilitated nearly $3 million in federal Housing and Urban Development grants to provide initial funding for the Regional Center.
The new 11,500-square-foot building has offices for the Regional Center program, including the Small Business and Technology Development Center, healthcare and youth development programs. The building has a several meeting rooms, a computer learning lab and video conferencing capabilities.
The dedication was attended by representatives of many local governments and businesses, including the towns of St. Pauls, Pembroke and Red Springs, Robeson Community College, Robeson County, Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation, Lumbee Guaranty Bank, Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Health Department, the Robeson County Committee of 100, Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce, state Sen. David Weinstein and representatives from the offices of Rep. McIntyre and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole’s office.
UNCP has high hopes for the Regional Center and its role of improving the quality of life in the region, said Dr. Roger Brown, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.
“The Regional Center was born to innovate and to tap the resources of the academic world and connect them with community resources for the betterment of our region,” Dr. Brown said. “We are committed to providing comprehensive programs and services that support regional growth and development, including research and development, workforce and business development and initiatives in education, health, and public safety.”
”It also seeks to be a catalyst for change,” Dr. Brown said.
Joe Sandlin, retired president of Southern National Bank and a UNCP Foundation board member at the Regional Center’s beginning, said both the Regional Center and COMtech are moving in the right direction.
“The economic development of our region requires the support of all of our educational institutions because our biggest weakness lies in the educational base of our workforce,” Sandlin said.
As Sandlin spoke, work continued on Robeson Community College’s new continuing education center across the street from UNCP’s new Regional Center. Not far from both buildings is the site for UNCP’s proposed biotechnology research, training and manufacturing center.
Called Project Bio, the University was awarded a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to pursue it, Dr. Brown said.
“This project is really what the Regional Center was created to do,” Dr. Brown said. “Project Bio was started in the Chemistry Department and spread outward through the University.”
“A new biotechnology major is planned to support it,” UNCP chief academic officer said. “It has created key allies at community colleges, public school, business, industry and government.”
In the midst of its friends and allies, the ribbon was cut on UNCP’s new Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development.