Online Originals: Jones County among locations to receive improved economic tier ranking

Online Originals

TRENTON, N.C. (WNCT) — The North Carolina Department of Commerce released the county tier designations for 2021 earlier this week. 

The designations, which are mandated by state law, play a role in several programs that assist in economic development. Each county is then assigned its tier designation ranking from one to three.

Tier 1 counties are generally the most economically distressed and Tier 3 counties are generally the least economically distressed. The rankings are based on an assessment of each county’s unemployment rate, median household income, population growth and assessed property value per capita. 

The law calls for 40 counties to be designated as Tier 1, 40 counties to be designated as Tier 2, and 20 counties to be designated Tier 3. There are 22 counties that will have their tier designations changed for 2021.

Counties moving to a less distressed tier ranking include Beaufort, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Jones, Macon, Onslow, Perquimans, Pitt, Polk and Transylvania.

“Historically, since they started this in 2007, we have been a tier-one county,” said Jones County Manager Franky Howard.

Jones County is improving it’s tier for the first time.

“We are part of this region that is seeing some growth now, which is a good thing, so we can use that to market from an economic development standpoint and be able to offset any negative loss,” Howard said.

Counties moving to a more distressed tier ranking include Alexander, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Davie, Haywood, Hoke, New Hanover, Randolph and Rowan.

Tier designations determine eligibility and guidelines for several different grant programs that N.C. Commerce administers, including the One North Carolina Fund, building reuse, water and sewer infrastructure and the Downtown Revitalization Main Street program. 

Tier designations also play a role in the state’s performance-based Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program, serving as a mechanism to channel funds for infrastructure improvements into more economically distresses areas of the state.

For more information about the tier designation system, click here.

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