Norris Tolson

by Wilson Rotary Club

Norris Tolson is the CEO and President for the Carolinas Gateway Partnership.  He joined the Partnership January 2016. Most recently Tolson served as a senior advisor for economic development with the Williams Mullen law firm.  Prior to that he was president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center from 2007 – 2014. 

He has also served as both the North Carolina Secretary of Commerce and the North Carolina Secretary of Transportation.  In 1999 Tolson served as the Chairman of the North Carolina Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund and in 2001 he was appointed to be the North Carolina Secretary of Revenue and stayed in this role until 2007.

Tolson was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and served in the House of Representatives from 1994 until 1997 representing parts of Edgecombe, Nash, Pitt and Wilson Counties at the time.  Tolson also served on the Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University where he was Vice Chairman and First Vice Chair of the executive committee.

He graduated from NCSU with a bachelor’s degree in crop science and agribusiness and has served his alma mater in many other capacities over the years.  He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the university in recognition of his outstanding career achievements and for his commitment to the land-grant principle of service to community, state and nation.  He served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps from 1963 – 1965.

Prior to his beginning his public service career, Tolson held various domestic and international marketing, research and sales responsibilities with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.  From 1965 until his retirement in 1993, he served the company’s agricultural products and electronics divisions and lived in Europe for several years during that time. 

Tolson currently resides in Pinetops, NC.  He has three children and five grandchildren. You can contact Norris at: ntolson@econdev.org.

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