NCGrowth-SmartUp partners with Bertie County on TGOW project

Published 6:02 pm Friday, July 17, 2020

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NCGrowth-SmartUp, an initiative based at UNC-Chapel Hill, will work with Bertie County to analyze the potential for economic development and new business startups associated with the Tall Glass of Water (TGOW) project.

The project will include a market analysis, case studies, and recommended strategies for leveraging the TGOW project for sustainable economic development and local wealth generation.

With a breathtaking view of the Albemarle Sound / Chowan River providing the backdrop, Bertie County officials unveiled their “Tall Glass of Water” project to the general public on June 29, 2019. Now, the county has partnered with the NCGrowth-SmartUp initiative to explore more opportunities for the property. File Photo

TGOW is a 147-acre site off Bal Gra Road in the Merry Hill community right where the Chowan River spills into the Albemarle Sound. The site’s most stunning feature is its 2,200 linear feet of sand beach, now open to the public, and shallow calm waters that overwatch impressive sand bluffs overlooking the waterway.

The property was purchased by the Bertie County’s Board of Commissioners with financial assistance from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

Once the vision for the property is fully realized, opportunities for Bertie residents and visitors will include swimming, canoeing & kayaking, hiking, camping, and environmental education field experiences for students and adults.

“As a citizen of Bertie County, I am elated to be part of a project that has the potential to create a lasting impact on our community,” said Nicole Outlaw Staton, Program Manager at NCGrowth-SmartUp.

Over 900 residents and friends of neighboring communities attended Bertie Beach Day in June of last year.

“The Commissioner’s wanted a ‘kick-off’ celebration to introduce everyone to the natural landscape of TGOW, swim, have lunch together and learn more about the project. While sustainable economic development is an objective of the project, the primary focus was to create a waterfront recreation area for all the citizens of Bertie County. TGOW “Where History Meets Adventure” brings together Bertie’s most significant assets: water, a pristine natural environment, rich heritage and our people” said Commission Chairman Ron Wesson.

In 2013, NCGrowth worked alongside citizens and county officials to develop Blueprint for Bertie: A Community Economic Development Plan ( Community feedback and research from that project revealed several goals and recommendations for the county to consider.

Founded in 2012, NCGrowth-SmartUp is an award-winning applied economic development center, housed at UNC’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. NCGrowth-SmartUp helps businesses and communities create good jobs and equitable opportunities through applied research and technical assistance. Through this work, NCGrowth-SmartUp directly addresses inequality, poverty, underemployment, and other factors that keep people and communities from reaching their highest potential.

The team includes expert staff across the Carolinas, academic advisors from multiple universities, and hundreds of local partners.

NCGrowth-SmartUp is also part of CREATE, an economic development research center working to tackle the problem of severe and increasing wealth inequality by generating shared economic prosperity through a combination of research, data analytics, homegrown interventions, and policy development.

For more information on NCGrowth-SmartUp:

For more information on The Tall Glass of Water Project:


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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