Rocky Mount mayor looks for economic hope

Posted June 13, 2011 9:15 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2011 10:27 p.m. EDT

— In a town where unemployment tops 12 percent, pessimism about the economy is hard to avoid, Rocky Mount Mayor David W. Combs said Monday. 

"We've had some tough times and got some challenges, but we've also got a lot of successes along the way," Combs said.

One of those successes is home shopping giant QVC, which is growing at a crucial time for thousands of people looking for work.

"They're expanding, about a $70 million expansion, adding about 200 jobs," Combs said.

He also noted a company that produces Honda parts in the Tarboro area will be adding about 50 high-technology jobs. 

North Carolina, the nation’s 10th largest state in terms of population, has the country’s 10th worst jobless rate at 9.7 percent in April.

"I think we're all worried about the economy. When you got a 9.8 (percent) unemployment rate, you're worried about the economy," Sen. Kay Hagan said.

Job creation was on President Barack Obama's agenda when he visited Cree Inc. in Durham on Monday. The company, which makes energy-efficient lighting, is located more than 65 miles from Rocky Mount.

During the visit, Obama unveiled a massive engineering training program to help get U.S. manufacturing back on its feet after the recession.

The "all-hands-on-deck strategy," he said, would include incentives for students to earn college degrees in engineering, math and technology, public and private funding for university programs in those fields and more internships for students to gain experience before graduating. The goal is to train 10,000 people a year, he said.

"What he announced today, I think, is great, but I think the problem you get into with so many people is they can't wait six months. They can't wait 12 months," Combs said.