Rural Counties still lag behind
Despite gains in unemployment rates, North Carolina’s rural counties are still lagging behind their urban counterparts. Much of the economic recovery is based in counties with large urban cities. Meanwhile, rural counties have not returned to their pre-Great Recession states. Half of North Carolina’s counties have seen declines in population since 2010.
According to Jeff Michael, director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute:
The area’s small communities can boost their recoveries if they strengthen their supply, transportation and even educational linkages to Charlotte, Michael said. “Their success is going to be tied to those growing urban areas,” he added. During the region’s textile production era, he noted, the small communities were better connected to Charlotte and each other than they are now. The connection among growers, suppliers and manufacturers formed “incredible linkages within that industry,” Michael said.
Michael goes on to cite Asheville, North Carolina’s success in creating a complementary “cluster of services” as one of the ways industry-minded rural counties can maintain economic stability.
Charlotte Business Journal | Recovery bypassing Carolinas’ small, rural communities in favor of the urban centers