Haitian community flourishing in Mount Olive
Posted February 15, 2012
Mount Olive, N.C. — The small Wayne County town of Mount Olive is best known for its pickles, but it is now getting worldwide attention for its changing demographics.
Nearly 1,000 Haitian immigrants have settled in Mount Olive since 2010 and now account for almost one-sixth of the town's population.
Suzette Lubin was one of the first Haitians who moved to Mount Olive in the past two years. She now runs a store catering to that segment of the local population.
"I sell products from Haiti here. Everyone likes what I sell here," Lubin said Wednesday.
Like many others, Lubin moved her family to Wayne County from Florida, where the economy is even more sluggish.
"The people needed jobs. That's why the people are coming here," she said. "It's better here for me."
Most migrate to Mount Olive to work at one of the many surrounding poultry processing plants.
Town Manager Charles Brown said those are crucial local jobs that not everyone wants.
"It's hard work. It's dirty work," Brown said.
Mount Olive initially faced some housing and crowding issues, but they have since improved, he said.
"It is a big bump when you've got a town this size and you absorb that. It took a little adjusting," he said.
The Haitians' story recently got some international attention when the BBC profiled the changing face of Mount Olive.
There are now several Haitian shops in town aside from Lubin's, and a Haitian restaurant has even opened.
"The people that are here have jobs. They are making money and adding to the local economy," Brown said. "It's probably been beneficial to Mount Olive."