Loading...
I see the 10th Street connector is nearing completion. Another three years to paint the lines and we will be on our way,...

Balancing North Carolina’s lopsided growth

Loading…

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Between July 2016 and July of this year, North Carolina added enough people to its population to build a new city the size of Wilmington — an increase of 116,730 people that makes us one of the fastest-growing states in the country, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers.

Our state is projected to have 10.6 million residents in 2020, up from 10.3 million this year. While some of that growth comes naturally — more births than deaths — the majority of the increase comes from newcomers moving here from other states and countries. The statistics released this month include a net international migration of 20,162 people and a net domestic migration of 66,051.

We’re in far better shape than our closest neighbor, Virginia, where domestic migration is going the other direction — it lost a net total of 12,935 residents headed to other states.

The numbers spell good news for the state’s economy and its political importance in the country: We’re on track to get a 14th representative in Congress after the next Census.

But the Census numbers aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. A big chunk of North Carolina isn’t seeing any of this population growth, and the population is dropping as people leave to find jobs elsewhere. Several small towns east of Interstate 95 lost nearly 10 percent of their population between 2010 and 2016.

Charlie Perusse, budget director for Gov. Roy Cooper, shared some depressing statistics in a recent presentation to reporters to highlight North Carolina’s challenges. While the Raleigh area has had 19 percent job growth since the recession — the state’s highest — parts of the state still haven’t hit the number of jobs they had before the recession.

Job growth has been largely stagnant in the Triad, Fayetteville and Greenville. Even worse, “the Goldsboro and Rocky Mount (regions) had fewer jobs in October 2017 than at any point during the period from 2007 through 2010,” according to Perusse’s presentation. And while 30 counties are expected to see population growth of more than 10 percent over the next decade, 29 counties are projected to lose population.

So what’s to be done about it? State leaders are trying, when possible, to lure back manufacturing plants to rural communities where shuttered factories dot the landscape.

Edgecombe County got positive news this month when a Chinese tire company announced plans for an 800-job plant, which Cooper says is the largest manufacturing investment ever in rural North Carolina. But it comes at a steep price: $152 million in incentives, or about $19,000 per job.

Incentives can help jump-start the economy in depressed areas, but the state can’t afford to create all its new jobs by handing tax receipts back to corporate executives. And there’s generally not a magic governmental bullet to bring a city like Rocky Mount back to its former glory.

The demographic shifts from rural to urban aren’t unique to North Carolina, and many companies and families would never consider leaving Mecklenburg or Wake County for a smaller community.

The goal for state leaders should be to stop the bleeding: Attracting enough jobs to rural areas so that the people who want a small-town life can find work and stay put.

Politicians have to invest in boring stuff like water, sewer and internet infrastructure that can support companies large and small, from foreign conglomerates to homegrown start-ups. Crumbling infrastructure is a big problem for small towns because they’ve lost the tax base to fix it.

Cooper was unsuccessful in getting $30 million in the current state budget for what he calls “ready sites,” which are infrastructure projects for 50- to 200-acre tracts being marketed to employers. Legislators should give the idea another look in 2018 — most of the Republican leadership represents rural counties, so funding that targets low-wealth counties ought to be an easy sell.

While the bulk of the 1.1 million people expected to join North Carolina’s population by 2027 will inevitably end up in urban counties, small towns don’t have to become ghost towns — but they do need help to turn the tide.

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service. Follow him at NCInsider.com or @RaleighReporter. Write to him at ccampbell@ncinsider.com 

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

July 19, 2018

There has been much hand-wringing among conservatives on just how to respond to President Donald Trump’s embrace of Russia’s Vladimir Putin even as he distanced himself from his own government’s fundamental institutions.

To those who might be looking for guidance on how to react,…

jessehelms

July 18, 2018

The enduring image of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday will be that of President Trump standing next to Vladimir Putin and suggesting he found Putin's "powerful" denial at least as persuasive as the U.S. intelligence community's unanimous finding that Russia intervened in the 2016…

APTOPIX Finland Trump Putin Summit

July 17, 2018

Chris Anglin is trying to pull a fast one on North Carolina voters.

Anglin, a Raleigh attorney, is a candidate for the N.C. Supreme Court. Until June 7, he also was a registered Democrat. But when Anglin filed as a candidate at the last moment this month, he did so as a Republican. That means there…

Chris Anglin

July 16, 2018

Thanks to tinkering by North Carolina’s General Assembly, voters this November will face a virtual book of a ballot, chock full of somewhat bewildering constitutional amendments.

Some are rather silly, such as the amendment to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish ... except when…

N.C. Legislative Building

July 14, 2018

Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states because the blood sport — usually accompanied by heavy wagering — is cruel to dogs. Yet in North Carolina most dogs rescued from such operations face an even harsher fate. Those that show scars and wounds from fighting are deemed dangerous and…

DOG1_1.jpg

July 13, 2018

The Government Accountability Office has once again warned Congress that the federal government’s current fiscal trajectory is “unsustainable.”

In a report submitted to Congress on June 21, the GAO notes the federal deficit has continued to grow every year in the last few years.…

Congress Returns

July 12, 2018

It was already confused and disorganized on several other fronts, and now we’re seeing new evidence that the Trump administration’s immigration policy is bringing damaging disruptions to the nation’s armed services. As often seems the case, it’s happening with no explanation.…

Immigration Service Discharges

July 11, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court comes at a tense moment. It could drastically shift the court's tenuous ideological balance, and it comes not long after Senate Republicans disgracefully blocked President Barack Obama from making a…

POST-EDITORIAL-SCOTUS

July 10, 2018

Ordinarily when NATO's 29 national leaders get together, everybody involved pushes for all the good things they want the alliance to do. At this week's summit in Brussels, they'll mainly be hoping to keep anything bad from happening.

The center of Europe's current concerns will come as no surprise:…

Romania NATO Britain Fallon-2

July 08, 2018

Setting aside whether the Senate should confirm a Supreme Court nominee in an election year (the Merrick Garland rule) or whether a president should be allowed to appoint a justice while still under the cloud of the Russian meddling investigation (given the variety of issues such as whether a…

SCOTUS-ADF
105 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»