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HC development on the rise

WINTON – The Hertford County Economic Development Commission believes the county is moving in the right direction.

At Tuesday’s Hertford County Board of Commissioner’s meeting, Bill Early, Executive Director of the Development Commission, offered information that suggested the county’s economic landscape is solid.

According to Early’s findings, unemployment has dropped nearly a full percentage point in the past calendar year and the county has maximized its industrial tenant capacity.

&uot;I have good news and bad news,&uot; Early told the board. &uot;The bad news is that we have no available industrial buildings.&uot;

Early went on to explain the reason there are no industrial buildings available for prospective tenants is because every facility in the county is occupied.

According to Early’s report, 86 percent of companies looking to move into the region are seeking existing buildings.

The remaining 14 percent are seeking tracts of land.

Early said his commission was already in the process of formulating promotional efforts to attract companies in search of land parcels to build on.

Early stated that his commission has other developments evolving as well.

&uot;We are researching the feasibility of constructing an industrial or spec building,&uot; Early said. &uot;We currently have eight active projects that we are working on which would bring approximately $1.6 billion and over one thousand jobs to the region.&uot;

Early’s report indicates a 14 percent jump in retail revenue for the county from 2004-05 to 2005-06.

&uot;Retail sales increased from $296,839,812 to $337,275,127,&uot; Early said. &uot;That’s a $600,000 increase in sales tax revenue.&uot;

Part of the increase in consumer spending is due to an increase in the number of people entering the workforce as well as an overall increase in the local population base.

A report generated by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission indicates that the number of people who entered the labor force over the past year increased by 183.

Over the same time period the number of unemployed persons who were employed increased by 242.

Of the four counties in the Roanoke Chowan Region, Gates County’s had the lowest unemployment rate in July at 4.1 percent.

Gates County has approximately 5,000 fewer individuals in their labor force than Hertford County, whose unemployment rate for the month of July stood at 5.7 percent.

Bertie and Northampton County, both of whom also have a substantially higher number of people in the labor force, had unemployment rates of 7.0 and 6.3 percent respectively.

In July 2005 the unemployment rate in Hertford County was 6.4 percent.