Northumberland County’s economic development commission has a “broad mission” according to Theresa Lambert, a member who, until April had served as its executive director. “It is to enhance and improve the county’s economy” across a broad array of efforts.
Broad mission or not, the commission’s new executive director, Jim Blue, has been hampered by measures taken to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It has been hard to meet people with the social distance orders and stay at home directives that have been in place since he assumed his duties April 11, he said Sunday. Even so, he has started.
Blue, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel, said he has been studying various aspects of the county’s economy with an eye to improving the county’s agricultural sector. “Agriculture and fishing are mainstays for the county, “ he observed.
Blue agreed that innovative approaches to the county’s farming such as Billy Dawson and Mason Brent’s use of local barley crops in a distilling business rather than the usual use of the crop is the type of thinking he is looking into.
Although Blue and his wife, Jane, only came into Northumberland in October, 2019, he is no stranger to the county. While he was on active duty in Army acquisitions, they lived in Northern Virginia but for many years had a second home in Bay Quarter Shores. Then, after his second retirement as a defense consultant in 2015 Jane took positions with libraries in western North Carolina and they sold their Northumberland property. Then, last year, Jane was hired as executive director of the Northumberland Public Library. And coming home to Northumberland was a “no brainer” Jim noted.
Blue, who’s father was a career military man was born in Mississippi and, in due course graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelors degree in business management and an ROTC commission in the Army. Later, the Army sent him to get a masters degree in information systems management.
While getting good broadband service in the county has been a priority for just about everybody in county government, Blue feels the need acutely. He lives way down in Remo which is an Internet “dead zone” he said. Curing that would make his work a great deal easier.
The Economic Development Commission had five members, one from each of the county’s voting districts plus its executive director and the county administrator. Currently, Lee Allaun, Lambert, Melissa Bunns-Carter, Ron Herring and Dick Saxer are the appointed members.