WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Athletic center to open its doors this weekend

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A former Wilson athlete has returned home to pay it forward with the Saturday grand opening celebration for Power Plex Athletic Center.

CEO Jeremy Jeffers knows well the challenge of balancing athletics with academics, but that effort was rewarded with a career as a college basketball player and eventually the small forward for the Guangdong Southern Tigers basketball team in China. His time overseas didn’t last long, though, because he missed his family and he took an office job.

“It wasn’t what I wanted to do. It took me completely away from basketball, but all I was doing was working, going home, going to sleep and doing it again the next day,” the 26-year-old said. “I’d been playing basketball since I was 5 years old and it hurt to be away from that life, so I came home and found my own way to be involved with what I loved to do.”

In 2016, Jeffers returned to Wilson and started helping train athletes at Greenfield School. From there, he helped coach other Greenfield athletes, then partnered with a fellow Greenfield alum, Darian Cahill. The former collegiate athletes decided to start the company that evolved from group training for basketball into a new athletic center at 2708 Wooten Blvd.

The center — which will have a grand opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with giveaways, bounce houses and more — has training for all sports, indoor batting cages and basketball courts, which can be rented through the Power Plex app. There also is a professional recovery room for athletes.

“Our motto is: family, academics, sports,” Jeffers said. “We value bringing the kids in through sports, but teaching the value of academics and important life skills are crucial. We feel there are basic skills like the ability to socialize professionally, what to wear and how to act in different environments are lacking, but gaining them will really help athletes excel in life. We want them to start thinking about their future more rather than just what is happening right now.”

All 10 staffers at the center were college athletes and have been in the same shoes as the student-athletes they train. Jeffers said Power Plex has about 250 clients between basketball programs and performance training focusing on speed, agility, vertical leap and explosiveness for all sports.

“Our goal is to get a bigger facility, but we’ve got to start somewhere,” Jeffers said.

For more information on Power Plex, visit www.powerplexnc.com/.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIES

According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, Wilson County held the distinction of having the state’s third-highest unemployment rate for July despite a 0.2 percent decrease. Wilson’s rate dropped from 7 percent in June to 6.8 percent in July with Edgecombe County — the county with the second-highest jobless rate — mirroring the decrease from 7.4 percent in June and 7.2 percent in July.

The Wilson Economic Development Council met Tuesday and Executive Director Jennifer Lantz announced a new collaborative region with Nash, Edgecombe, Johnston and Pitt counties called the “Biopharma Crescent.” She said the five-county region has an estimated $3 billion in investment from biopharmaceutical industries, accounting for more than 10,000 jobs, so officials from the counties opted to join forces and market the region to other biopharma firms.

Lantz said to have a booth for the county at a trade conference usually is about $15,000, but pooling resources, Wilson will be represented with the others at four conferences between now and June for about $10,000.

“With our budget, I’m trying to constantly find ways to leverage our dollars to get more from it than we have in the past and this is one way to do that,” she said.

Council Chairman Will Farris was particularly supportive of the crescent, noting many major industrial announcements spur other indirect investment nearby.

“It will be great for all the counties,” he said. “There is no boundaries to economic development between the counties and we have to work together in that regard. If we can find common ground and work on it together, it saves us money, but it also helps us work and recruit future projects.”

EXTRA! EXTRA!

A Wilsonian recently secured an internship with Playhouse on the Square, Memphis’ only resident professional theater company serving the entire Mid-South region. Talen Piner, who grew up in Wilson before heading to East Carolina University to get a bachelor’s degree in musical theater, recently was hired to participate in the Associate Company internship program for recent college graduates.

“The program was begun to enable emerging theater artists to explore every avenue of the profession and apply their education in the real world,” according to a news release. “Piner will serve as a performance intern this season as well as giving time to scenic production.”

Playhouse on the Square has two main stage venues with 15 performances a year, but also does performances in a black box theater and at annual events. Piner said he looks forward to all Memphis has to offer through the internship.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.

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