County enlists state to help development

Published 2:59 am Tuesday, January 16, 2007

By Staff
Program to devise economic revitalization
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
As part of an ongoing effort to pull Beaufort County’s economy from its Tier One designation, local officials have enrolled the county in another state-aid program.
Gov. Mike Easley announced Jan. 10 that Beaufort County will join Washington and Hyde counties in the 21st Century Communities program, an initiative led by the N.C. Department of Commerce to cultivate long-term economic growth in the state’s most distressed communities.
In partnership with Beaufort County officials, a state DOC task force will develop tailor-made strategies to enhance the county’s economic vitality. It will then work with the county to implement those strategies.
The county should receive paperwork that will begin its partnership with the state DOC within 30 days, according to Spruill.
Tom Thompson, Beaufort County’s chief economic developer, spearheaded the application effort for this competitive program.
The CDBG program offers grants to qualified counties and municipalities in a number of development categories such as community revitalization and housing development.
The goal of the program is “community readiness — using existing commerce resources in a focused, knowledge-driven approach to help assess the individual economic challenges faced by counties,” according to the state DOC Web site.
Participating counties must be in a state of relative economic distress, characterized by factors such as rising unemployment or reliance on at-risk industry, to qualify for the program.
The governor nominated Beaufort County, along with Anson, Caldwell, Edgecombe, Graham and Harnett counties. Twenty other counties, including Washington and Hyde, were named for the program last year and were its first participants.