Beaufort Co. receives statewide recognition for economic growth

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Beaufort County leaders are making adjustments after receiving premier recognition for their constant growth over the past year.

Each year, the North Carolina Department of Commerce ranks all 100 counties based on an assessment of each county’s unemployment rate, median household income, population growth and assessed property value per capita.

In addition, any county with a population of less than 12,000 or a county with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents with 19 percent or more of those people living below the federal poverty level is automatically classified as Tier 1.

Martyn Johnson is the director of Beaufort County’s economic development and said the process to achieve a certain level isn’t easy.

“Moving from a tier 1 to a tier 2 county is a double-edged sword,” said Johnson. “Tier 2 makes the county more marketable and successful in a growing economy.”

As the population increases and poverty rates drop, the resources become limited.

“This will make it harder to receive grants to attract companies to the area,” said Johnson. “What we have to do in the future,  is market our economy as a growing economy.”

The action requires several agencies to join forces to enhance the chances for the county to stay afloat.

Darone Dancy is the manager for NC works and is apart of the several agencies to find a solution for the country’s citizens.

“We have to get more creative when it comes to finding these individuals and making sure that we’re really training them enough,” said Dancy. “They’re only going to succeed if they are given an opportunity with employer’s.”

A successful economy is a goal for leaders but having a fighting chance for a growing economy is a top priority.

Catherine Glover is the Executive Director of Washington-Beaufort County’s chamber of commerce who says a growing economy is critical.

“We’ve seen a lot of improvements in the area,” said Glover. “A lot of our buildings have been sold and there’s a lot of great projects on the horizon, which shows in the fact that we’ve moved from a tier 1 to a tier 2 community.”

Tier designations determine eligibility for a number of different grant programs that the N.C. Department of Commerce administers including building reuse, water and sewer infrastructure, and the downtown revitalization Main Street program.

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