Poverty level data reflected in move

Published 9:29 am Tuesday, April 1, 2003

By By DOUG GIBBS Daily News Correspondent
SWAN QUARTER - Hyde County has lost its Tier I status, moving on up to Tier 2, the N.C. Department of Commerce has announced.
According to Ted Boggs, director of public affairs with the Commerce Department, the county has a lower poverty rate than it did in 1990, necessitating the change.
U.S. census data shows that Hyde County had 148 families living below the poverty level in 1999, representing 10.3 percent of the total number of families. The number of individuals below the poverty level was reported to be 795 in 1999, or 15.4 percent of the total population of 5,826. No more recent figures were available.
In a telephone interview, Boggs told the Daily News that one formula is used for determining the tier status of all of the state's 100 counties. The data incorporated in that formula are reviewed annually, he added.
Changes are based on population growth, unemployment rate and per capita income, according to an N.C. Commerce Department news release.
Contacted about the local change, Hyde County Manager Bryan Steen told the Daily News, "The state is saying that the county is not as economically depressed as it used to be. The state has not returned my phone calls regarding this matter."
The county manager doesn't know of anything that has changed the economic status of the county, he added.
State Sen. Marc Basnight's staff also is looking into the matter further. Basnight, president pro tempore of the state Senate, counts Hyde County residents among his constituents.
Businesses that create a new job in Tier I counties earn a $12,500 tax credit and a 7-percent tax credit on new machinery and equipment.
In Tier 2 counties, businesses that create a new job earn only a $4,000 tax credit. The 7-percent tax credit on equipment and machinery still applies.
In addition, counties in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 are eligible to receive financial assistance through the state's industrial development fund, which provides new and existing firms with $5,000 in additional funding for each new job created, up to $500,000, to provide infrastructure to new or existing sites.
N.C. Commerce Secretary Jim Fain made the announcement that county tier designations changed for 25 counties in the 2003 rankings mandated by the General Assembly.
In those 2003 evaluations, Richmond, Bladen, McDowell, Sampson, Burke, Cumberland, Wilkes, Davidson and Randolph counties moved down one tier level to a more-distressed designation, while Gates County moved down two tier levels. Hyde was joined by Yancey, Cherokee, Hoke, Madison, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Haywood, Nash and Watauga in moving up one tier level to a less-distressed ranking.
Davie, Clay, Camden and Ashe all moved up two tiers. The remaining counties stayed at 2002 tier levels.
The Department of Commerce evaluates North Carolina's 100 counties annually, as mandated by statute, and assigns a tier designation ranking from one to five, with Tier 1 being the most economically distressed and Tier 5 the least.