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Projects may boost economy

WINTON – Unemployment rates are in the double digits across the state of North Carolina, including three of the four counties in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

But despite these troubling economic times, one where lay-offs are occurring every day, the forecast for Hertford County is not as bleak as it seems.

At Monday’s meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, local Economic Development Commission Executive Director Bill Early gave an update on the economic trends in the county.

Early said that according to the latest numbers available from the state, Hertford County’s unemployment rate stood at 10.6 percent. That marked a 2.3 percent increase since December of last year.

“We’re in better shape than the state (an average 11.3 percent jobless rate) as well as most of our neighboring counties,” Early noted.

He shared information that revealed unemployment rates in Northampton (12.8 percent) and Bertie (12.3 percent) counties were higher than Hertford. Only Gates County (8.5 percent) was lower.

Hertford County was also fairing extremely well among the counties comprising the northeastern sector of the state. There, from west to east, Vance (a 14.4 percent jobless rate), Warren (15.2), Halifax (14.8), Edgecombe (16.9), Martin (12.5), Chowan (12.5), Perquimans (10.8), Pasquotank (11.1), Washington (12.3), Tyrrell (14.4) and Dare (17.1) each had high higher unemployment numbers than Hertford. Only Currituck (9.1) and Camden (10.0), along with Gates, were lower.

“All totaled, there are 72 counties across the state with unemployment numbers higher than ours,” Early said. “Our rates are not surging like some other counties.”

Early said Hertford County EDC is currently working on several projects that will hopefully have an impact on the local economy. Those projects include an expansion at Nucor Steel and a Biomass Power plant planned for the Millennium area. Early said both projects are currently in the process of obtaining air permits necessary for their operations.

Early also mentioned a possible expansion at River’s Correctional Facility near Winton. He said a decision on that project would hopefully be reached by May.

“These projects would stimulate our local economy,” Early concluded.