Local News

Edgecombe Economy Making Swift Turn Around

Posted December 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Just two years ago, it seemed like Edgecombe County couldn't convince companies to stay in business. Lately, that trend has reversed with company after company coming to the area.

Tracey Harper grew up in Edgecombe County. Thanks to new incoming businesses like an electronics plant, he can afford to stay.

"It's a good job," Harper explains. "It's a nice start. The company is brand new. It's a good place for a young person getting out of school to start."

The company that hired Harper just moved to town last year. It's part of an invasion of new businesses now turning around Edgecombe County's financial future.

Just two years ago, plant closings and mergers put thousands of people out of work. Now, new employers are moving in, attracted to available buildings and workers.

"When you're recruiting industry, unemployment becomes a positive," says Chairman Charlie Harrell of the Edgecombe Board of Commissioners, "and so that has gotten the attention of a lot of people. We've also had some available buildings and plant closings."

But, county leaders are quick to point out that aggressive marketing and tax incentives helped turn the tide so quickly.

"We now, for every job that's created in Edgecombe County, can offer a company a $12,500 dollar tax credit," says economic developer Oppie Jordan. "That's a tax now, not a giveaway."

The jobless rate is dropping slowly, but will decline more quickly as the new companies start to hire. Business leaders believe that as the economic climate improves, so will the quality of life around here.

"I do believe that's what it all boils down to," Jordan say, "believing in yourself. And they believe in themselves now, and we're not going to stop. We're going to keep going."

The number of new businesses should improve Edgecombe County's unemployment rate, which is the third worst in North Carolina at 7.8%. That's more than twice the unemployment rate for the entire state.

For the record, Swain County has the state's highest unemployment rate, while Orange County has the lowest at an amazing 1.4%.