North Carolina officials are studying ways to help boost the state’s economy.
The state has the 10th best economy in the nation, according to a Wallethub study, yet discussions are underway across the state about furthering economic development.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce will publish a new economic development plan to help lawmakers and stakeholders decide how to improve development next year. The last economic development plan was published in 2013.
“A lot has changed in our state since then,” said Emily Williamson Gangi, policy engagement director for ncIMPACT, the University of North Carolina initiative behind the economic plan.
The main goal is to get the community’s input, she said. The next meeting will be held Thursday at the Martin Community College in Williamston, N.C. It is one of eight sessions scheduled before the plan is finalized.
Two sessions were held in Kannapolis and Fayetteville over the past two weeks, and a third was held on Tuesday in Raleigh.
A packed house of residents and economists in Raleigh talked about extending innovation in the state. North Carolina ranks 12th in economic innovation potential, according to Wallethub.
“Community innovations take time,” said John Hardin, executive director of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Science, Technology & Innovation.
Each session starts by examining data in the different regions, according to Gangi. Then organizers seek feedback from the audience. Using the combination of information, economists can draw conclusions on the economic atmosphere.
“We want to learn about opportunities and challenges particular to the region,” Gangi said.
The subsequent sessions will be held Oct. 9 in Kernersville; Oct. 24 in Jacksonville; Oct. 29 in Lenoir; and Oct. 30 in Cherokee.
North Carolina’s Department of Commerce offers a variety of programs and federal and state tax dollars to try to help stimulate the state’s economy. Some of the resources include downtown and rural grants and workforce initiatives.
The department has also granted tax incentives to several companies this year for doing business in the state, something critics argue is government picking winners and losers in the private sector.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that Pallet Consultants of North Carolina, a local distributor, will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant for expanding its operations in Dunn, N.C.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, which is higher than the national rate of 3.7 percent. However, more North Carolinians were employed over the month, and the unemployment rate dropped over the past year.