Business Visions honors students, leaders


To solve North Carolina’s economic woes, we must tap into “the power of being who you are,” said Harry E. Payne Jr., chair of the state Employment Security Commission.

PaynePayne spoke at the 9th annual Business Visions banquet, which honors outstanding business and community leaders and students in the region. It was held at UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development on April 28 at COMtech Park.

Some of the most powerful words in North Carolina used to be, “I got on at the plant,” Payne said.

Those words once meant good wages and a good life for families living in rural communities of the state, he said. North Carolina manufacturing jobs declined precipitously from 22 percent of the state’s workforce to just 14.6 percent.

“The plant is gone, and it’s not coming back,” Payne said. “You can’t explain the global economy to the unemployed worker, who once said, ‘I worked all my life and never drew a day of unemployment.”

“It’s as if a hurricane came through,” he said. “But there is real power when you look at your assets and be who you are.”

Payne said it is pointless to find blame or seek quick answers. North Carolina’s assets are great communities and great people, he said.

“Whatever you do, do it a little better tomorrow,” he said.
Awards (photos below):

David Barker, who organized the Centennial Celebration of Flight and the annual Mid-Atlantic Fly-in, won the Spirit of Unity Award. The fly-in expects to attract 70,000 spectators and more than 1,000 airplanes to Lumberton Municipal Airport on May 12-15.

"It’s not about me. It’s about a group of people who had a vision,” Barker said.

Doris McLean of St. Pauls was named Business Person of the Year. A pharmacy technician, McLean is vice president of the town’s Chamber of Commerce and promotes many community projects including three separate scholarships and the town’s recent successful clock fund drive.

“If you love your town as much as I do mine, then everything you do is worth it,” McLean said.

Donna Lowry, owner of Caring Touch Home Healthcare, Inc., was named Entrepreneur of the Year. A Robeson County native, Lowry started her business with three employees in 2000 and employs 65 today. She is also enrolled in UNCP’s nursing program. (The Award is sponsored by BellSouth)

“I owe it all to the people who made my dream possible – my family, my staff and the SBTDC (Small Business and Technology Center), who helped me put my business plan together,” Lowry said.

Christy Blue of Laurinburg, N.C. and Genivieve LeBeau of Quebec, Canada were co-recipients of the Outstanding Undergraduate Business Student of the Year. Blue is president of UNCP’s award-winning Students in Free Enterprise club, which won regional competition and competes in the nationals in May. LeBeau also won UNCP’s award for Outstanding Leadership and Service. (Award sponsored by Acme Electric and Healthkeeperz)

Longge Gao won the Outstanding MBA (Master of Business Administration) Student of the Year Award. She is an international student from mainland China. (Award sponsored by Lumbee River Electric Membership Association)

Lawrence Locklear won the Outstanding MPA (Master of Public Administration) Student of the Year Award. A Pembroke native and NC State University graduate, Locklear is UNCP’s Web publisher and a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council. (Award sponsored by Southeastern Regional Medical Center)

Chuck Smith was named Outstanding Community College Business Student of the Year. Smith is the production manager at Elkay Southern, a graduate of Robeson Community College and currently enrolled at UNCP. (Award sponsored by Elkay Southern)

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors congratulated the winners.

“This is my 6th Business Visions, and I continue to believe it is important to recognize talented and successful people in our community,” Chancellor Meadors said. “Thank you for being here and caring about where you live.”

For more information about Business Visions or the Regional Center, please call 910.775.4000 or email



Spirit of Unity Award – David Barker, center, with Regional Center Director Sylvia Pate and county Economic Development Director Greg Cummings



Business Person of the Year – Doris McLean (center) with St Pauls Town Manager Larry DiRe and Regional Center Director Sylvia Pate



Entrepreneur of the Year – Donna Lowry with Johnny Marshburn, director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center



Outstanding Undergraduate Business Student of the Year Award - co-recipients Genivieve LeBeau (left) and Christy Blue (right) with Cammie Hunt, business professor



Outstanding MBA (Master of Business Administration) Student of the Year Award - Longge Gao (center) with Randall Jones, representing LREMC, and Dr. Carmben Calabrese, MBA program director



Outstanding MPA (Master of Public Administration) Student of the Year Award - Lawrence Locklear (center) with Dr. Nicholas Giannatasio, MPA program director, and Luckey Welsh, CEO, Southeastern Regional Medical Center



Outstading Community College Business Student of the Year - Chuck Smith (center) is flanked by Randy Hernandez (left) of Elkay Southern and George Pate, an instructor for Robeson Community College.