Comparing biggest NC cities: How Greenville and Jacksonville stack up

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Despite positive growth since the recession, Greenville and Jacksonville still don’t stack up well with other larger cities in the state.

Earlier in January, the Greenville City Council was presented data comparing the 15 largest cities in the state. Greenville came in as 10th biggest, followed by Jacksonville at 14, and Rocky Mount at 15.

When comparing the 15 biggest cities, unemployment rates from August 2015 showed Jacksonville had the 10th highest at 6.2 percent, followed by Greenville with the 13th highest at 6.8 percent, and Rocky Mount with the 15th highest at 8.8 percent. The best cities on the list were Asheville at 4.8 percent, and Cary and Raleigh at 5.2 percent.

However, Roger Johnson, Greenville’s Economic Development Director, said those unemployment rates don’t represent that most recent data. In November, he said Greenville’s rate had dropped to 5.7 percent.

He said he would like to follow in Wilmington’s footsteps when it comes to developing things like public-private projects. He also said he wanted to increase sites available for industrial purposes, but knows there are many challenges standing in the way.

“What the city of Greenville is facing is a shortage in existing larger building space to recruit some of our targeted industry clusters,” Johnson said.

Greenville, Jacksonville and Rocky Mount also didn’t stack up well when looking at per capita income for the 15 biggest cities. Greenville ranked 12th at $22,836, Jacksonville at 14th with $21,210, and Rocky Mount at 15th with $20,185. The two best cities on the list were Cary at $44,554 and Charlotte at $31,556.

Jim Kleckley, ECU’s Director of Business Research, said regardless of what city you are talking about, industries looking to open shop search for similar things.

“A new employer coming wants an educated workforce and they want a healthy workforce,” he said.

Because of that, areas in the East are already at a disadvantage. He said in recent years, a troubling trend has started to appear that clusters the main economic development in one area of the state.

“The Raleigh and Charlotte I-85 corridor,” he said. “That should concern everybody, certainly East of I-95, but everybody in the state of North Carolina.”

The economic is one of the items set to be discussed during the Greenville City Council retreat.

To read more about comparisons drawn in the state’s 15 biggest cities, click here.


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