Wayne economy holding steady, according to new state numbers
By From staff reports
Published in News on December 14, 2012 1:46 PM
Wayne County economic development officials say they are not surprised that the county was not among the dozen counties whose status on the state's economic development ranking system changed.
State law designates the 40 most distressed counties as Tier 1 counties, the next 40 counties, that include Wayne, as Tier 2, and the 20 most prosperous counties as Tier 3. The rankings are used when grant money is distributed.
"We've been holding our own and our unemployment rate continues to slowly creep down," said Joanna Helms, president of the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance. "This continued stay at Tier 2 denotes that we have a fairly steady economy in Wayne County thanks in large part to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the robust existing industry base that we have.
"We will still be able to apply and receive ample grants from the state for both new and existing industries as we remain a Tier 2."
Wilson, along with Gates, Hoke and Jackson counties, drops from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 ranking in the new list, while Greene, Beaufort, Cleveland and Surry counties improve from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
Rankings for other local counties are: Duplin, Sampson and Pitt, Tier 2; Lenoir, Tier 1; and Johnston, Tier 3.
The designations, which are mandated by state law, determine a variety of state funding opportunities to assist in economic development.
"Our mission is to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians," said N.C. Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco who announced the designations. "We want all of our residents to have good jobs regardless of where they live in the state," Crisco said. "These tier rankings provide important tools that help attract and retain businesses in all parts of North Carolina."
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.
Eligible businesses that locate in lower-tiered counties are eligible for some grant programs and larger tax credits than those that locate in higher-ranked areas.
Tier designations determine the available amount of tax credits for job creation and business property investment in a list of eligible industries. They include manufacturing, motorsports, aircraft maintenance and repair, air courier services, warehousing, customer service call centers, research and development, electronic shopping and mail order houses, wholesale trade and information technology.
All eligible companies are required to offer employees health insurance and pay at least 50 percent of the premiums, cannot owe back taxes and cannot have received a significant environmental violation notice from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties, companies also must meet a wage test.
Potential benefits to companies under each tier designation include:
* Tier 1: $12,500 tax credit per new job with a requirement to create at least five jobs, and a 7 percent tax credit for eligible business property expenditures
* Tier 2: $5,000 tax credit per new job with a requirement to create at least 10 jobs, and a 5 percent tax credit for eligible business property expenditures of more than $1 million
* Tier 3: $750 tax credit per new job with a requirement to create at least 15 jobs, and a 3.5 percent tax credit for eligible business property expenditures of more than $2 million.