Beaufort County rises in Commerce assessment

Published 6:04 pm Friday, November 30, 2012

As expected, Beaufort County will rise effective Jan. 1 in the N.C. Department of Commerce’s assessment of the county’s economic health.
On Friday, N.C. Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco announced the county tier designations for 2013 — designations which determine a variety of state funding opportunities to help in economic development.
Beaufort County is one of 12 counties that will change tier designations for 2013 and will join 39 other counties which will have a Tier 2 ranking.
Beaufort, Cleveland, Greene and Surry counties will move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 designation next year, according to a Department of Commerce news release.
Four counties — Gates, Hoke, Jackson and Wilson — will fall from a Tier 2 ranking to Tier 1. Guilford and Lincoln counties, currently Tier 3 counties, will shift to a Tier 2 rank. Franklin and Haywood counties will move from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 ranking, according to the release.
Using a statutory formula outlined in the 2006 Tax Credits for Growing Businesses — more commonly referred to as Article 3J tax credits — the Department of Commerce assembles required statistics for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties, applies the formula and assigns a tier designation ranking from one to three.
Tier 1 counties are the most economically distressed and Tier 3 counties are the least. Qualified businesses that locate to lower-tiered counties are eligible for more grant programs and larger tax credits than those that locate to higher-ranked areas.
The law calls for the 40 most distressed counties to become Tier 1 counties, the next 40 counties to be designated as Tier 2 and the 20 most prosperous counties to become Tier 3 counties.
The rankings are based on an assessment of each county’s unemployment rate, median household income, population growth and assessed property value per capita. In addition, any county with a population of less than 12,000 or a county with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents with 19 percent or more of those people living below the federal poverty level automatically are designated as among the most distressed counties.
Beaufort County will join neighboring Craven, Pamlico and Pitt counties among Tier 2 rankings. Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell and Washington counties will retain Tier 1 rankings.
There are no Tier 3 counties north of U.S. Highway 264 and east of Interstate 95, according to the release.