Rural economic developers face a myriad of challenges not shared by their urban and suburban counterparts. A widely dispersed and generally low-skill workforce, limited broadband connectivity, poor access to health care, scarcity of start-up and small business funding and declining and aging populations are just a few of the unique issues rural developers grapple with on a daily basis.
At the same time, rural communities are not all cut from the same cloth, and tactics that work well in one town might be ineffective or even disastrous in another.
John B. Marek has spent the last 20 years developing and refining economic development strategies specific to rural and Micropolitan communities and putting them to the test across North Carolina's rural landscape.
Over those 20 years, he has assisted communities in the creation of more than 1,500 jobs and nearly half a billion dollars in capital investment, while helping them maintain and enhance their own unique rural character.
In 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012, the Statesville Region, where John served as Director of Business Retention and Expansion from 2007 to 2016, was named Site Selection magazine's #1 Micropolitan for new and expanding industry and was twice named to the publication's list of Top 10 Economic Development Organizations.
As Executive Director of the AnsonEDP since 2016, he has built an economic development organization from the ground up and led an economic revitalization in one of the state's most distressed rural counties.
As a strong advocate for rural North Carolina and a widely acknowledged thought leader in rural economic policy, John's articles are considered "must read" by many in the rural development community and he is a popular speaker and meeting facilitator for local EDO boards, county commissions and town councils.
John currently accepts a limited number of speaking and meeting facilitator requests from rural communities in North Carolina. If you have an interest in John speaking at or facilitating your EDO board meeting, local government retreat or professional organization meeting, please click below and fill out the request form.
John does not charge a speaking or facilitator fee, but does request mileage reimbursement for engagements outside the Charlotte region.