Optimism bodes well for economy


Staff Writer

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Optimism in the national and state economy continues to bode well for growth happening in the local economy.

Mekeal Teshome, economist for PNC Bank, said North Carolina’s business leaders’ confidence in the national and state economy as well as their own businesses for the next six months tempered slightly, but still remains higher than a year ago. Teshome said for the Rocky Mount metro area, which consists of Nash and Edgecombe counties, the business climate is favorable for companies looking to relocate or expand.

“The one continuing advantage for Rocky Mount is the cost of doing business is low,” he said. “The cost of doing business in Rocky Mount is 22 percent below the national average. There is a workforce that is used for manufacturing. As Rocky Mount turns into a logistic hub, it’s an advantage for producers that want to get their goods into the market.”

While Teshome suggests manufacturing should stabilize this year in the local area, the Twin Counties can no longer lean on manufacturing to be the job generator in the region.

Patrick McHugh, economic analyst for the N.C. Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center, said while many metropolitan areas have fared better than rural areas, barriers to prosperity still exist in many communities in North Carolina’s cities such as Rocky Mount that have lost jobs over the past year.

“While manufacturing is still an important industry in terms of adding new jobs in Rocky Mount, the area is going to be more of a service-driven economy,” Teshome said. “Logistics is obviously going to be one and there has been a number of investments in the region such as QVC a few years ago. With CSX coming in, that’s going to create an opportunity for Rocky Mount to develop other industries. Health care should also be a growing industry with our aging population.”

Teshome said the overall state outlook shows 62 percent of state business owners and leaders anticipate increases in sales during the next six months, which is up from 54 percent in the spring. He added 19 percent expect to increase the number of full-time employees. For the local economy, the job market will continue to be unstable.

“We’re expecting more stability relating to job growth, but we will continue to see a quarter where there is positive job gains and a quarter where we might lose some jobs,” Teshome said. “That’s the bumpy road that Rocky Mount has been on. I’m hoping as the U.S. economy continues to improve, North Carolina’s economy grows, that hopefully that will lead to constant job growth happening in the Rocky Mount metro area.”