The staff of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, front row left to right, Shinita Williams, Darien Thomas, John Dean, Meg Moss, and back row, Bob Joyce, Morgan Barbour, Jimmy Randolph, and Austin Thomas.

By Charles Petty

Even after a year-long battle with the obstacles and heartache of the Coronavirus pandemic, the business community in Sanford and Lee County is thriving.

At the heart of it all is a man very dedicated to seeing business ventures thrive in Sanford and in Lee County. Jimmy Randolph was named CEO of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance – better known as SAGA – in August of 2020. SAGA helps to lead with development and growth, ranging from small storefronts to major companies making multi-million dollar investments.

But Randolph’s relatively new leadership role doesn’t mean he’s new to the organization. Indeed, he’s played more than one central role with SAGA, and even the organizations which preceded it. He joined SAGA officially in 2018, but previously served as the community partnership coordinator and later president of the Sanford Chamber of Commerce in the 90s and early 2000s before running a payroll company locally for several years.

“I could not have picked a better time to serve with SAGA,” Randolph said. “The community had done such a fabulous job of positioning SAGA to lead the way for growth and development, and it was amazing to jump right in with those efforts.”

Born in neighboring Harnett County, Randolph said he’s always seen the potential Sanford had and has. With recent announcements by companies like Pfizer, Audentes Therapeutics, Through6, Abzena, Bharat Forge and more that they were bringing more than 1,500 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax base investment to Lee County, that potential has been realized.

“Lee County’s location is incredibly strategic,” Randolph said. “With regards to business expansion like Apple is doing in Raleigh, we have an opportunity to capture all of the business activity that is erupting in the Triangle area. We are ideally situated to be part of the activity and help foster that growth.”

SAGA has a team of eight people who help assist Randolph and help to expand business interests in the county, as well as to work with county and city government to ensure a smooth process for not just potential but also current businesses.

Randolph cites one of those existing businesses, Caterpillar, as just one example of the many manufacturers already making major investments in the community, as further evidence that Sanford is posed to see a boom. The existence of these established companies only increase the possibility of becoming a part of the supply chain for other major businesses moving in.

“It has been a remarkable thing to watch and to be a part of as our community has responded to the challenges of the pandemic and how we are looking forward to the future,” he said.