DCMetroRaleigh

Eastern NC population drain

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According to projections from the state based on U.S. Census data, the population of Edgecombe County is predicted to drop by more than 7,000 between now and 2030. That contrasts sharply with the rest of the state, which is expected to grow by 3.2 million people.

The figures make Edgecombe County's projected growth rate over that time negative 13.3 percent

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These numbers have been showing up in the state demographic charts for a little while - I'm surprised they're just making the news down there. That alone is alarming - this isn't prophecy set in stone just yet - but officials and community eaders in Edgecome need to keep their heads up and do some serious outside-the-box thinking - obviously most or all of the currently endorsed methods of stimulating growth (anywhere) are absolutely not working there.

Looking at the projections, it should be mentioned that the drop in Edgecome would be paired with a surge in Nash and Pitt - what is being projected (methinks) is the drain of the middle-class, educated class and professional class out of Edgecombe, and into suburban Raleigh or Greenville. There are several spots in E NC that have been experiencing a brain drain for a while - the swath of counties between Edgecombe and the Chowan River are all projected to lose population, and both Kinston and Goldsboro have been experiencing slow, steady population declines for more than a decade. Obviously, incentives or new freeways alone ain't doing it down there.

The spots where growth has been occuring (excepting Wilmington, which has more of an independently successful economy) - New Bern, Greenville, the Albemarle region (bet. the sound and the VA line) are worth a look - retirees, universities, tourism, or proximity to larger cities are helping those places out, and at least the first 2 of those factors could be investigated by folks in Edgecombe.

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David, how about counties like Northhampton, Halifax, Bertie and Martin? Halifax seems to be growing to me, but that is a superficial impression.

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Well the danger in the long-range projections is that they are influenced by current patterns and trends, and there are many other "what if" variables - what if incentives work? what if a new interstate gets built? what if a new university is created? what if global warming drives people away from the immediate coastline? what if FL's attractiveness as a retirement location plummets precipitously? what if the several national wildlife refuges and sanctuaries in NE NC are turned into a national park (which would draw in tourists)? what if the major metros elsewhere in NC experience unanticipated economic success (at greater than currently expected levels) or declines, and what would that do to economies elsewhere in state?

At present the projections are for most of the counties you mentioned to lose population, though none so drastically as Edgecombe. But 30 years is a long time, and engaged and outside-the-box leadership in any or all of those counties could slow or reverse the decline, though I think it will require some unorthodox ideas.

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These numbers have been showing up in the state demographic charts for a little while - I'm surprised they're just making the news down there. That alone is alarming - this isn't prophecy set in stone just yet - but officials and community eaders in Edgecome need to keep their heads up and do some serious outside-the-box thinking - obviously most or all of the currently endorsed methods of stimulating growth (anywhere) are absolutely not working there.

Looking at the projections, it should be mentioned that the drop in Edgecome would be paired with a surge in Nash and Pitt - what is being projected (methinks) is the drain of the middle-class, educated class and professional class out of Edgecombe, and into suburban Raleigh or Greenville. There are several spots in E NC that have been experiencing a brain drain for a while - the swath of counties between Edgecombe and the Chowan River are all projected to lose population, and both Kinston and Goldsboro have been experiencing slow, steady population declines for more than a decade. Obviously, incentives or new freeways alone ain't doing it down there.

The spots where growth has been occuring (excepting Wilmington, which has more of an independently successful economy) - New Bern, Greenville, the Albemarle region (bet. the sound and the VA line) are worth a look - retirees, universities, tourism, or proximity to larger cities are helping those places out, and at least the first 2 of those factors could be investigated by folks in Edgecombe.

Wilson is also growing.........Just wanted to make sure you knew that town existed..... :rolleyes:

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Wilson is also growing.........Just wanted to make sure you knew that town existed..... :rolleyes:

Wilson's still a town?? You jest! (just kiddin') The last time I was there they had added quite a bit of retail and restaurant options. :thumbsup:

Edited by suburban george3

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Just to randomly speculate - the growth projected in Nash County is expected overflow from eastern Wake, so I'd expect the same would hold true in Wilson County, perhaps on the I-95 side of town. US 64/264 will do for Nash and Wilson what I-40 did for Johnson, which will suburbanize that area. The growth will come; one could kvetch about its' quality. How to actually stimulate growth in E NC that duplicates the benefits seen elsewhere in the state, while dodging the screw-ups?

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Well the danger in the long-range projections is that they are influenced by current patterns and trends, and there are many other "what if" variables - what if incentives work? what if a new interstate gets built? what if a new university is created? what if global warming drives people away from the immediate coastline? what if FL's attractiveness as a retirement location plummets precipitously? what if the several national wildlife refuges and sanctuaries in NE NC are turned into a national park (which would draw in tourists)? what if the major metros elsewhere in NC experience unanticipated economic success (at greater than currently expected levels) or declines, and what would that do to economies elsewhere in state?

At present the projections are for most of the counties you mentioned to lose population, though none so drastically as Edgecombe. But 30 years is a long time, and engaged and outside-the-box leadership in any or all of those counties could slow or reverse the decline, though I think it will require some unorthodox ideas.

This is very true.....I read a very large water and sewer planning document for Wake County from 1977.

at that time all of Raleigh's population was on or inside of I-440. It predicted massive growth in the direction of Garner(south). Lo and behold, Falls Lake Dam gets built to the north, IBM relocates most of its workforce from Poughkeepsie NY to RTP and those high salaries opt for large lots near and north of the only existing portion of 440, the northern arc.....south Raleigh towards Garner barely grew during those 30 years.

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N&O article about the population drain in Eastern NC.

I really don't have a good answer to deal with the problems there. As the article states, not close enough to the beach and not close enough to the small urban centers. I don't think the answer is building tons of unneeded roads, but I would think there should be an emphasis on education (ECU will get a new dental school), although there's no way to guarantee graduates will stay.

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This is a more difficult question, but SHOULD anything be done to get people to stay?

There is a city in Ohio that is not working on "smart growth" but "smart decline." Their city had much more population in the mid-20th century, and is now closer to 66,000. Youngstown seems to have more natural assets than a lot of places downeast. The TransPark has been a massive waste of money.

Would it be better helping people relocate?

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I don't know if anything can be done either. Most people today want to live in or reasonably near a major city. They want amenities, entertainment, shopping choices. The immediate coast has the beach as a lure, but the inner eastern counties have no such appeal. The only hope is that one day the immediate coastal counties will be so dense and developed that housing prices there will force people to move to inner coastal plain counties for cheaper housing. Of course counties that are three counties inland still wouldn't benefit much from that scenario either.

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I really don't have a good answer to deal with the problems there. As the article states, not close enough to the beach and not close enough to the small urban centers. I don't think the answer is building tons of unneeded roads, but I would think there should be an emphasis on education (ECU will get a new dental school), although there's no way to guarantee graduates will stay.

The ECU med school, in fact, has not led to more physicians in this part of the state. Oddly enough, many small towns in eastern NC limit the # of practicing physicians. I think they do this with dentists as well. People thought that research entities would pop around Greenville after the med school (although focused on family health) became operational but there has been minimal action-I think there is one pharmaceutical manufacturing facility there.

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I do not think that anything should be done. People have been moving to the larger cities for many years. In my opinion we are going to start seeing people move to even larger cities (cities with a population of 500,000+) in the next 50 years as the economy changes. There are not going to be too many rural jobs, so people will leave for the cities. The state should expect this and should not really waste money on trying to get people to stay.

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Nobody wants to live in Eastern NC. There are no jobs and it's all extra country. As we move more toward a high-tech economy and away from agriculture and manufacturing, I think the trend is likely to continue.

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Nobody wants to live in Eastern NC. There are no jobs and it's all extra country. As we move more toward a high-tech economy and away from agriculture and manufacturing, I think the trend is likely to continue.

Honestly...you're correct. No one wants to live down east, except for those who enjoy the rural lifestyle. Frankly, I'm worried that the more we move away from agriculture and manuafacturing, the worse our economy will become. We really need a strong collaboration of industries in the USA. Never forget what manufacturing and agriculture has done for this country.

Personally, I enjoy urban life and culture; but there is something special in going out to my in-law's house which sits on 24 acres where no amenities beyond electricity and satelitte tv exist.

Also keep in mind that for every thriving metropolitan area, there are dozens of rural towns. We will always have these extremes. That's the beauty of the developed world and the world's most powerful economy. The towns in Eastern NC will never be what Raleigh has become. They need to find their own charm (like Asheville) and market that.

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Honestly...you're correct. No one wants to live down east, except for those who enjoy the rural lifestyle. Frankly, I'm worried that the more we move away from agriculture and manuafacturing, the worse our economy will become. We really need a strong collaboration of industries in the USA. Never forget what manufacturing and agriculture has done for this country.

Personally, I enjoy urban life and culture; but there is something special in going out to my in-law's house which sits on 24 acres where no amenities beyond electricity and satelitte tv exist.

Also keep in mind that for every thriving metropolitan area, there are dozens of rural towns. We will always have these extremes. That's the beauty of the developed world and the world's most powerful economy. The towns in Eastern NC will never be what Raleigh has become. They need to find their own charm (like Asheville) and market that.

I think your right & the cities should be Morehead City, Wilmington, or Greenville. My choice would be wilmington, NC.

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While there are many counties and towns in Eastern NC that have/are experiencing losses in population and industry, there are areas which are experiencing significant growth. Most of these areas that are growing, however, are near the coast with maybe Greenville as the exception to that. Coastal areas are seeing a large influx of retirees, too...but I would think industrial growth is pretty minimal. Greenville does have a major research and teaching hospital.

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Back in the early 90's eastern NC had a modest manufacturing increase. I don't think anyone saw the massive outsourcing and industries leaving the region like they have at the start of this decade. The one hope as one poster said is to hope that the coastal communities continue to develop and maybe one day have a trickle down effect. I have argued in favor of some incentives for the eastern portion of the state but I am no fool either. I am one of those who left over 15 years ago for some of the same reasons. However the state government should not totally turn its back on the east. You would have a situation that I liken to the "black belt" of Mississippi. I am all for the metro regions of our state and hope the growth trend continues. The Transpark was a good try but like I said that was proposed in the glory days of manufacturing. As far as roads goes I agree to much can be put on the premise that if you build good roads then industry will follow. It hasn't worked out so now what. I say concentrate on what will work. On those places that have the best chance to give the eastern populace all of those choices and ammenities. NE outer banks, Greenville and Wilmington should be the "focus cities" and see what happens from there. I think our friends in the big 3 will be more understanding with that formula instead of the current model of funding and allocations we have seen these days. Wilson/Rocky Mount will one day benefit from being close to Raleigh and Fayetteville will see population rise from outside sources for some time. Those cities should be able to pretty much fund themselves as their tax bases will increase to the point that they will become the 4th and 5th major NC metros. Wait I forgot about the Unifour metro...I digress. The 5th and 6th NC major metros.

Edited by NcSc74

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This is a more difficult question, but SHOULD anything be done to get people to stay?

There is a city in Ohio that is not working on "smart growth" but "smart decline." Their city had much more population in the mid-20th century, and is now closer to 66,000. Youngstown seems to have more natural assets than a lot of places downeast. The TransPark has been a massive waste of money.

Would it be better helping people relocate?

Maybe - this is an intriguing idea. I think there are major risks - a steady depopulation of E NC to me could look like the depopulation of inner cities by the middle class in the 50s-70s, writ large: the best-and-brightest E of I-95 flooding out of the region, leaving nothing but retirees and assorted social problems behind (which would cost the rest of the state in significant ways). The dearth of options E of I-95: roads to nowhere, a university network that is not going to expand, basically nothing apart from the military and retirement communities doesn't suggest anything good, and a handful of things I've seen pop up in the News And Observer (editorials hyping Nashville and Mt Olive [!]) as good exurban choices for Triangle residents suggest a slow-building sense of desperation in the region, and tourist/retail jobs aren't an adequate replacement for anything. The costs of a dead economy in one region will impact neighboring regions in a variety of ways.

Helping people relocate isn't on the radar, methinks - seeing a dramatic upswing in university attendance and educational gains, or in entrepreneurship and business growth are just about as likely, and I'd be surprised if we saw any of those things on a much broader scale. Again, there are also things like global warming or escalating insurance rates on the immediate coast which might force the issue, so who knows.

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^ I think the counties that border the Triangle area (Wilson, Nash, Johnston, etc), I wouldn't really worry about long-term, because I think the Triangle's growth will push that way. I worry more about counties like Hertford, Bertie, etc. that are further east and isolated and not near a resort area. I think the TransPark and building freeways to nowhere aren't helping much either.

I think the state should work on recruiting large scale agriculture to this part of the state. For example like large scale agriculture, like with huge farms for meat and processing. Those are things that you can't really get from China. Also trying to attract military contractors to the area. We have a few bases here and the Hampton Roads area isn't that far away, which is home to one of the country's largest military population.

If the government could get their act together and we could find a way to make cost of manufacturing Ethanol more affordable, eastern NC abundant amount of fertile farm land could be used to fuel the country and Eastern NC. Think of how much the Saudi's make in fuel, imagine some of that money coming here. :blink:

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^Do you think widening of US 17 to four lanes throughout NC will have any economic benefit? I know NCDOT is already building a four lane bypass around Washington, and significant improvements to US 17 have been made in Jacksonville, Wilmington, and Elizabeth City.

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If you look at the Census figures you will find at least 3 "Eastern NC" counties are near the top in population growth (Dare, Currituck and Camden). As a matter of fact figures in USA Today showed Camden was 15th and Currituck was 19th in the nation in growth percentage (2000-2004). With the proximity of these areas to the beaches and Hampton Roads (Norfolk, VA Beach: 1.7 million people) it is understandable that alot of folks are moving here from VA.

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If you look at the Census figures you will find at least 3 "Eastern NC" counties are near the top in population growth (Dare, Currituck and Camden). As a matter of fact figures in USA Today showed Camden was 15th and Currituck was 19th in the nation in growth percentage (2000-2004). With the proximity of these areas to the beaches and Hampton Roads (Norfolk, VA Beach: 1.7 million people) it is understandable that alot of folks are moving here from VA.

It's understandable, but it can also pose a major problem to the area if the leadership doesn't prepare for it. For example, Gates County (just west of Camden County) on the NC/VA border is experiencing an increase in population, partly from Hampton Roads residents moving south. However, instead of buying or building homes, many new residents are purchasing mobile homes, modulars, etc. and turning tracts of land into large trailer parks. Also, school systems are experiencing the strain of an influx of students, without the tax base or resources to build new schools and hire new teachers. Speaking of taxes, counties like this often don't have more than one or two incorporated areas, and while the county may be growing, the "towns" may not necessarily be.

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Yes, the growth in these areas does put a strain on the ability of the county to provide services, no doubt. But not everything is a trailer park. As a matter of fact, the developments happening on the Currituck mainland rival those on the OBX. Camden has large expensive developments as does Pasquotank. But you're right, school capacity seems to be the major need. Currituck has one of the lowest tax rates ($.32/$100.00) in the state.

Overall the area is still rural in nature (with trailer parks, warts and all), but that is RAPIDLY changing. It is still cheaper to live here than in Metro Norfolk, so people are taking advantage of it.

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I wasn't trying to imply that every development in the area was a trailer park, and I appreciate your pointing out that there are some larger developments being built. It is uneven, however, based on which county you're in.

Separate note: have there been any new developments with the Inner Banks Creative Communities initiative?

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