Sheila Pierce Knight, CCIM  
Executive Director

A native of Maryland and graduate of Salisbury State (University) with a B.S. in Biology, she also holds the International designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). Prior to her position as the local Economic Developer, Sheila enjoyed a successful thirty-year career as a real estate broker, owning both residential and commercial brokerage firms.  

She is actively engaged in her community having served as Chair for multiple community organizations; Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce, the Military Affairs Committee, the Jacksonville Board of Realtors, Bettering Our Local Downtown (BOLD), and Sturgeon City, Inc. (an environmental educational organization). 

She is a member of the North Carolina Defense Business Association (NCDBA) and the North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA), the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and is active on the Legislative Committees of both organizations, she has remained active in the REALTOR organization and was recently appointed to serve as the Chair of the newly formed Economic Development Committee of the North Carolina REALTORs.  She also serves as a Federal Political Coordinator (FPC) for the National Association of REALTORS. 

In 2013, Sheila was appointed by the Governor to serve on the North Carolina Department of Commerce Economic Development Board which was tasked with developing a 10 Year Jobs Plan. In 2014, she was appointed for a three-year term to the newly created non-profit Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), which is contracted by the Department of Commerce to perform Business Recruitment and Expansion, Tourism, Small Business and Global services for the state.



Jeremy Schmidt  
Deputy Director

A native of Wisconsin, Jeremy earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. In 2005, he was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps where he served six years on active duty with two tours to Iraq. For the past five years, he has served in the Marine Corps Reserves and currently holds the rank of Major. His current assignment is with 4th Civil Affairs Group in Hialeah, Florida.

While serving in the Reserves, Jeremy worked as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, developing multi-year strategic plans for Marine Corps units aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Charry Point. During this time, he earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


In 2016, Jeremy started working as a Special Advisor to the Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs in Raleigh, North Carolina and continues to assist the department as the administrator for the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission. Jeremy volunteers his time to the state’s Veteran employment initiative, North Carolina for Military Employment and the USO of North Carolina.