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Caldwell, Burke No Longer Among Most Distressed NC Counties

NC Department of Commerce

For many years Caldwell and Burke counties have been on the state’s list of most economically distressed counties, but not anymore. 

The state deemed Caldwell County one of its worst off counties in 2005. The county was losing hundreds of textile and furniture jobs and things got worse. 

“February 2010 was our lowest point when our headlines read 17.6 percent unemployment,” says Deborah Murray, the director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. 

The county’s unemployment rate is now down to 6.8 percent.

The state’s list factors in unemployment, income, population growth, and property values to rank its 100 counties. It divides its counties into three development tiers with tier 3 being the best and tier 1 the worst. 

Murray just got word that Caldwell and neighboring Burke County have moved up to tier 2. 

“It means our economic health has improved and our efforts have been leading us in the right direction,” says Murray. 

However, the better a county does, the less money the state will give it.  Murray says that shouldn’t have too much impact on Caldwell County. 

“It limits in some cases, not all, the amount of money the state would offer for job creation when they’re evaluating incentives. From that standpoint, the ones we use the most from the Department of Commerce won’t change that much,” says Murray.    

Those include grants for businesses setting up shop in vacant buildings and others targeted at healthcare. Guilford County was among five counties that fell a tier.  That means they could either be worse off or other counties are improving faster.