12/11/17 — Wayne County maintains its state rating as Tier 2

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Wayne County maintains its state rating as Tier 2

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2017 5:50 AM

The N.C. Department of Commerce released its 2018 county tier rankings for economic well-being with Wayne County maintaining its Tier 2 status.

Each year, the Department of Commerce ranks the state's 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a tier designation. The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, 40 counties are listed as Tier 2 and 20 counties that are the least economically distressed are listed as Tier 3.

"A Tier 2 is a middle of the road," said Crystal Gettys, president of the Wayne County Development Alliance. "It can mean some positives or negatives."

More economically distressed areas of the state will have an increased chance of receiving Department of Commerce funding for economic development. Higher ranking counties may tend to lure companies seeking more economically thriving communities, Gettys said.

Sometimes, companies interested in a new location will review the rankings, Gettys said.

"It kind of affects your projects coming in," she said. "Sometimes, they'll specifically want to be in a particular tier county. We've pretty much maintained a Tier 2 status. We're the middle of the road for companies. It's kind of a good thing."

Wayne County has maintained its Tier 2 designation since 2009, after being a Tier 1 county in 2008 and 2007, according to the Department of Commerce.

In 2018, six counties changed their tier status, with Lenoir and Perquimans moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1 and Forsyth slipping from Tier 3 to Tier 2. Beaufort and Caldwell counties improved by moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2, and Granville County improved by moving from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

The designations determine eligibility for a variety of N.C. Commerce programs, including building reuse, water and sewer infrastructure and downtown revitalization, and the state's Job Development Investment Grant, JDIG, program.

The rankings are based on each county's unemployment rate, median household income, population growth and assessed property value per capita.

Economic indicators for Wayne County include a 2015 median household income of $41,161, adjusted property tax base per capita, for the fiscal 2016-17 year, of $65,202, and a population loss of less than half a percent from July 2013 to July 2016.

The county's 12-month unemployment rate average, from October 2016 to September 2017, is 5.48 percent.

Nearly one quarter of the county's population, of approximately 124,000 people, were listed as living in poverty. From 2011 to 2015, the county's poverty rate was at 22.3 percent.