Elizabeth City is home to the largest population of Coast Guard personnel in the country. Support Center Elizabeth City houses five major United States Coast Guard commands, providing critical naval and aviation services to the area and around the country. From generating tax revenue to supporting community businesses, the USCG’s financial impact on the area is incalculable. But the relationship between Coast Guardsmen and Elizabeth City is deeper than just financial.
Friends and Neighbors
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Darren Grubb, a human resources expert for the Coast Guard, says Guardsmen stationed in Elizabeth City are lucky.
“It’s got that small-town atmosphere, where you can go in just about any establishment here and you see anywhere from three to five people that you know," Grubb says. "A 10-minute shopping spree turns into about an hour because you see so many friends in this town.”
Grubb says the small-town vibe is complemented by some really attractive destinations nearby.
“You’re still close enough to the big areas to take that drive up to Virginia Beach, or [south to] the Outer Banks. We’re just lucky to be here,” he says.
Navy brat Amy Alcocer has lived and breathed the military and the USCG her whole life, and has lived in Elizabeth City for more than 20 years. She’s got more military personnel in her family than she can count, and was a Coast Guard spouse for four years. As the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce’s membership director and events coordinator, part of her job is building connections. She says the USCG is at the heart of the community.
“Supporting the Coast Guard is really a team effort. Each year it gets bigger. The military powers our economy by having such a presence in the area," Alcocer says. "They’re [also] out there fighting and doing for us what needs to be done. And we just try to give back how we can.”
Coast Guard Week
One of the ways the chamber and community as a whole give back is through a special week dedicated to saying thank you to local service men and women. All week there are special discounts and offers for Coast Guard and other members of the military, then the area chamber of commerce hosts a waterfront concert that’s open to the public.
“It’s a way to give back and raise awareness. Even though it’s just a free lunch and a concert, it kind of opens everyone’s eyes that [the military] are in this area. And it gives our members a chance to give back,” Alcocer says.
The Coast Guard Gives Back
Grubb says he’s personally felt the support of his community over and over, from being thanked for his service when he’s in uniform to enjoying the annual Coast Guard week festivities. Support from the community makes Guardsmen want to invest time in the community.
“We do a lot of volunteering around the area, at local schools where our guys will go in and read to classes, or help them with their homework. And there [are] a lot of other things the Coasties do around the area.”
It’s this mutual respect and shared sense of community that drives the relationship between the Harbor of Hospitality and those who guard it.
Learn more about other big industries in Elizabeth City.