Board Spotlight: David Stover

Golden LEAF Board Secretary

Name: David Stover
City of Residence: Raleigh
County of Residence: Wake
Appointed by: Governor
Employer: Self Employed
Golden LEAF Board Leadership Roles: Secretary (2018) and Assistant Secretary (2016-2017)

What are other activities or leadership roles do you provide for the community?

I serve on several state and national boards. I am a Board member of the John William Pope Foundation. We serve various rural NC communities in the areas of Public Policy, Education, Humanitarian Efforts and the Arts. I also serve on the Board of Directors for The Fund for America Studies, which provides scholarships to college sophomores interested in comparative political economic studies and journalism. These students are given the opportunity to study at George Mason University and learn about our federal government. I also serve as a Board Director on the Philanthropy Roundtable, which helps to protect philanthropic freedom, to assist donors in achieving their philanthropic intent, and to help donors advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility in America and abroad. This Foundation helps provide philanthropic groups ways to address problems creatively. I also serve on the Board of Trustees for the Asheville School in Asheville, NC.

What is your connection to rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas?

As a young man, I often traveled with my father as he called on his business clients in eastern North Carolina, and I got to see the vibrancy of our rural cities and towns. I saw the impact of tobacco, textiles, and furniture on these communities. Through the years, I saw the economic degradation of these communities as industries departed.

While I was in Business School at Wake Forest University, I was an intern in the Public Affairs department at RJ Reynolds. I toured the Tobaccoville manufacturing plant, which at the time was one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country, and I saw the impact it had on Winston-Salem and our state.

How does your personal and/or professional life complement Golden LEAF’s mission and priorities?

I served as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce under Governor Martin’s administration. I often attended events with the business leadership in rural North Carolina. It was very eye opening to see the strength of the business community in our rural areas and how they weathered the changing economic landscape. While Assistant Secretary of Commerce, I participated in a coastal development project with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of Agriculture. We traveled coastal eastern NC evaluating what communities were doing right and what they could improve upon from our perspective to have their communities ready for development. It was very rewarding to work alongside with the leadership in these areas.

What are you most excited about seeing happen in economic development in rural NC in the next 5-10 years?

I hope that we will see our state attract higher paying jobs for our workforce. We need more infrastructure in place to open up the opportunity for these communities to successfully locate companies with better paying jobs. I also see the need to focus more on entrepreneurship. We need to utilize the local talent we already have and get some of our folks to return and invest in our communities like Vivian Howard has in Kinston. She has created a vision for Kinston which has helped revitalize and build a rural community. Her investment has spurred more investment in the community. We need others to come back with good ideas and weave those ideas into the fabric of the community. Big companies coming in shows more immediate impact but those who are from an area will really work to invest and grow the community for generations to come.

What do you want people to know about the Golden LEAF Foundation?

We really have a hardworking Board and Staff. This is one of the more involved Boards that I serve on. Both the Board and Staff work well together which is both noteworthy and a positive combination.

What didn’t I ask that you would like to address related to the Foundation, the communities we serve or economic development?

In 1985 Governor Martin, Secretary of Commerce Haworth and I worked on a 20-page document, North Carolina’s Economic Development Blueprint, that identified three things to help with economic development:

  • Reduce burdensome government regulations,
  • Provide an educated workforce,
  • Build infrastructure where employees can get to jobs and products can be transported to market.

If the government can do those things, we will be in a really good place for economic development.

The State and Golden LEAF need to prioritize our needs and our opportunities and then invest in the highest priorities.

Golden LEAF is not a governmental entity, but the Foundation is an important lever for enhancing economic development in communities. Companies know their needs better than any government institution. We need to prioritize Golden LEAF’s investments and encourage private investment.

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