EVERETTS, N.C. (WNCT) – As eastern North Carolina continues to grow, it’s not just the larger cities like Greenville and New Bern looking to take the next step to boost their economy.
Martin County leaders are looking toward the future to bring in more businesses and jobs.
With about 24,000 residents, Martin County is one of the smaller counties in North Carolina.
The unemployment rate is around 6.8 percent, which is down from 13.9 percent at the beginning of 2010.
Although the unemployment rate has improved, Martin County leaders aren’t relaxing, and they are working to attract new businesses, which mean more jobs.
“Jobs are the number one priority for just about everybody,” said David Bone, Martin County manager. “Economic development is jobs. And this type of infrastructure investment equates to jobs. And that’s our priority.”
That investment starts at the Martin County Regional Business Park in Everetts.
“We just completed almost $1,000,000 worth of infrastructure improvements funded by the North Carolina Department of Commerce,” said Jason Semple, president and CEO of Martin County Economic Development. “We extended our water and sewer and road, which opened up several more parcels in this park.”
On one parcel sits a shell building, constructed two years ago. The 50,000-square-foot structure has all the amenities a company would need to hit the ground running.
“There’s a lot of thought that went in place to make this very attractive to a lot of different industries,” said Bone. “We’ve had a lot of different companies that have expressed interest and come and looked. And we feel certain we’re going to get the right industry in the very near future.”
It’s forward thinking like the shell building and the improvements to the infrastructure Semple said will help Martin County grow.
“It’s absolutely essential,” Semple said. “That’s one of the reasons we have this shell building as well. It can save anywhere from 12 to 18 months in terms of getting up and operating for a company. Anytime you can minimize that start-up cost it gives your community an advantage.”
Leaders in Martin County said two other factors will help bring more jobs to the county as well: the recent Interstate 87 designation for U.S. 64 that runs through Martin County and the CSX train terminal scheduled to be built just to the west in Edgecombe County.