Focal Point: The Other North Carolina

As the Triangle and other metropolitan areas grow, many rural counties across the state have been struggling. (Original air date Feb. 28 2008)

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Original Air Date: Feb. 28, 2008

Since 2000, North Carolina's population has grown by nearly 800,000 people – with most of that growth in metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle.

Although these urban areas have been growing and prospering, many rural counties across the state have been struggling with declining populations, stagnant economies, high unemployment rates and high poverty rates.

Many of these communities have suffered from the loss of textile and furniture manufacturing operations that have moved to other countries.

"It's hard to keep your sanity about you when you get booted out the door from three different plants," said J. D. Biggs, a former furniture plant worker in Spruce Pine. "It's really tough on any family."

Inland coastal counties have seen a decline in the state’s commercial seafood industry, which has been battered by hurricanes, pollution and foreign imports.

As young people leave these rural counties looking for economic opportunities in urban areas, they leave behind communities that are struggling economically.

Focal Point: "The Other North Carolina“ explores this issue by looking at four rural counties across the state that have lost thousands of jobs and are looking for ways to replace them.

Watch the Documentary

Focal Point Extras

Billy Ray Hall

Billy Ray Hall, president of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, discusses the struggles rural counties face in the new global economy.

Created in 1987 to support North Carolina’s rural communities, the Rural Center conducts research into rural issues and supports rural communities with technical and financial support for programs that help strengthen their economies. (Watch the interview.)

Mill Memories

Several years ago, thousands of workers filled busy manufacturing plants on Mill Road in Rockingham, N.C. With the closing of every plant, Mill Road is now quiet. (Watch the video.)

Yesterday's Catch

Due to the economic pressures and foreign imports, many locally owned fish houses in the dying commercial fishing industry in Swan Quarter, N.C., have closed in the past few years.(Watch the video.)

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