Area economy poised for growth


Staff Writer

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The local economy received some encouraging news toward the end of 2017 with two major announcements, and the chance for economic growth in Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties is expected to continue this year.

In the retail market, Alan Matthews, director of economic development for Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, said Rocky Mount is well-positioned for a prosperous year in consumer spending by attracting new growth. Matthews said a current example of new growth expected from the ongoing N.C. Department of Transportation’s road projects is Moseley Real Estate Advisors from Charlotte has acquired the undeveloped out parcels on the perimeter of Sam’s Club facing the U.S. 301 and Sunset Avenue corridors. 

“This will bring four to five new retailers to our community in 2018 and 2019,” Matthews said. “Two of these businesses currently under construction are considered in the industry to be high-end retail. This project alone will capture $15 million in capital investmen and 50 to 75 new jobs. Sam’s Club brings $50 million in retail sales to our community and demonstrates our ability to serve a four-county region and 300,000 population base.”

Matthews added other possibile retail businesses coming to the area will likely be a grocery retailer with Publix being a strong possibility. The Edgecombe Park Shopping Center on North Fairview Road owned by New-Bern-based Crayton Commerical will have a new tenant as a new health and beauty store is set to open soon, Matthews said.

It will join Roses, Dollar Tree and Pizza Hut at the shopping center. Matthews said one space is left to be filled for the shopping center to be a 100 percent occupancy. Based on gross collections from the N.C. Department of Revenue, Matthews said, Nash and Edgecombe counties are exceeding the growth rate of the state. 

Nash County has a growth rate at 8.3 percent, while Edgecombe County’s growth rate is at 6 percent. The Rocky Mount metropolitan statistical area, which consists of Nash and Edgecombe counties has a growth rate of 8.1 percent. The state’s growth rate during the period of January through the third quarter of 2017 was at 5.7 percent, Matthew said.

“This important economic indicator demonstrates an increase in consumer confidence, which supports a healthier business environment,” Matthews said.

Matthews said the recent announcements of Triangle Tire bringing 800 jobs and nearly $580 million in investment to the Kingsboro megasite and Corning Inc. investing $86 million to build a warehouse facility and creating 111 jobs will bring increased opportunity for new retailers to invest in the Twin Counties and will allow existing retailers to see continued increase in their volume.

While the latest figures in November from the N.C. Department of Commerce show Rocky Mount still with the highest unemployment rate among the metro areas at 6.5 percent, Mike Walden, economist at N.C. State University, said with expected growth in the national and state economy that the local economy will also benefit.

“I would look at 2018 as one of the best years in at least a decade for Rocky Mount for more business development and job creation,” Walden said. “Rocky Mount is in position because it does have labor. When you get into a period of sustained economic growth for years, labor often becomes the constrained factor in a region. That’s one of the things we’re hearing in the Triangle is it just don’t have any labor and that can be a deterrent to businesses, so that could be a a big game changer for Rocky Mount. The big metros are really full up and companies looking at North Carolina are going to want to look at other metros and locations like Rocky Mount being close to the Triangle and having Interstate 95 and U.S. 64 run through it are big factors.”