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Federal Grant May Boost Local Low-Income Counties

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ROCKY MOUNT — While the financial outlook for the Triangle is bright, not every county in the area is thriving. In many places down east, jobs are scarce and salaries are lower. However, a proposed federal grant could help three counties catch up.

From her front porch in Eastern Rocky Mount, Annie Wiggins can see a lot, including houses that need repair, and some that have been empty for weeks.

Low-income neighborhoods in Edgecombe, Wilson and Halifax counties could soon be improved by a massive federal grant.

"There are senior citizens here, people on fixed incomes, people with young children and young mothers who don't have husbands, and they need help," Wiggins said.

A government agency called the Enterprise Alliance is applying for $40 million to benefit all three counties. The money will improve housing and youth facilities, as well as attracting small business.

Buster Adkinson says the plan can work. He recently opened his own auto repair shop in one of the poorest parts of Rocky Mount.

"They were glad that I moved over here," Adkinson said. "They said this place was a wreck, and said that a whole lot of people used to hang out over here."

The money would also help many people complete their education. In Edgecombe county less that 60 percent of adults graduated from high school.

The grant is not definite yet, and even the writers agree that money cannot fix every problem. But if it does go through, they believe that it could spark improvements that some areas have not seen in generations.


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