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The segments below provide a wealth of information about each North Carolina Rising story featured in PHASE II of this multi-year initiative highlighting rural economic development throughout the state. Each features maps to the sites spotlighted, demographic facts about the county and city covered, extended interviews with locals of interest, and resource links to other sites that relate to the subject matter. Stroll through these areas online and gain an in-depth look at the people and issues that are changing the economic landscape of rural North Carolina.
Biotechnology holds real promise for Bertie County, NC, according to scientists, farmers, and economic developers living and working in the area. See the growing possibilities in this rural community and find out how tobacco helped launch a rising North Carolina industry.
Caswell County may be one of the poorest in the state, but it is rich in North Carolina history. One couple is trying to preserve that history while also trying to lay the foundation for a brighter economic future. Lucindy and Mike Willis have turned the historic home of Bartlett Yancey into a restaurant. In the process they've created jobs, supported local farmers and inspired others in the community with their "can-do" spirit.
Long before North Carolina was known for growing tobacco, the Tar Heel State was the largest grower of grapes and the leading wine maker in the union. That all changed after the Civil War and later prohibition. But today there's a resurgence of wine making in North Carolina and nowhere is that more apparent than in Duplin County.
Martin County may be one of North Carolina's poorest counties, but community leaders say the state shouldn't count them out. This feature examines the plentiful economic development efforts underway in the region.
A trip to a former cattle farm in Transylvania County convinced Ric Scalzo that he had found just the right spot to relocate his herbal products business. Situated on a picturesque hill overlooking a lush valley, Gaia Herbs sits in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains. Once home to textile and paper mills, the region now sees economic promise in the agricultural bounty of its native soils.
Hertford, North Carolina, the county seat of Perquimans County, is home to the oldest brick house in North Carolina. See how the local economy can benefit from this type of heritage tourism attractions and other efforts underway in this rural community.
Bent Creek Institute
North Carolina is one of the most biodiverse regions in the country. At the Bent Creek Institute in Asheville scientists are exploring ways to help develop natural medicinal botanicals and tap into the international natural products industry.
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm & Meadow Mills Grist Mill
Day after day we hear about home foreclosures and businesses going bust. But two Wilkes County companies have found a way to not only maintain, but grow, their family businesses.
Students from Caldwell County Schools are getting a R.E.A.L. education. "R.E.A.L." stands for North Carolina Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning. It's a mouthful, but simply put--it teaches students skills for starting a business.
Clean Burn Fuels
When it comes to alternative fuel sources, ethanol has become a popular choice. North Carolina’s first corn based ethanol plant opened earlier this year in Hoke County. The 100 million dollar plant in Raeford hopes to cash in on the biofuels market and in the process boost economic development in the region.
In Northampton County along the Virginia border, an independent test track and automotive research and development site is open and ready for business. It’s called NCCAR or the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research.
Hoke Community Forest
The Conservation Fund is working with its partners to establish North Carolina’s first community forest project in Hoke County. The 532 acre property is located about a mile from Fort Bragg, adjacent to forestlands with the second largest population in the U.S. of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The community forest hopes to boost the local economy while protecting the areas unique ecosystem.
As the 4th largest military state-- military related industries have become a critical part of the economy. Take the US Coast Guard's Fleet Readiness Center in Elizabeth City. The motto here at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City is: Keep em flying. It's a big job considering a quarter of the local fleet is on deck ready day or night for search and rescue, law enforcement or any other needed homeland security duty.
North Carolina is known for its agricultural roots, but a proposed turbine project may put the area on the map as the state's first commercial wind farm. Locals call thousands of acres of in north eastern North Carolina -- the desert. It's a place where punishing winds whip open farmland. It's the kind of location Craig Poff, Senior Project Developer for Iberdrola Renewables, dreams about.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures
Whether it's a hot sauce, pickle relish or spicy mustard--Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Asheville is helping food entrepreneurs realize their dream of starting their own business. Since opening its doors in 2005 Blue Ridge has helped nearly 170 businesses get off the ground. In another installment of our NC Rising series, Christine Rogers traveled to Buncombe County to see how this incubator is nourishing agribusiness in North Carolina.
Certified Entrepreneurial Communities
Western North Carolina is home to the first program of its kind in the country that helps communities cultivate entrepreneurs. The Certified Entrepreneurial Community program was developed in 2007 by Advantage West, a regional economic development agency, as a way to help communities foster their entrepreneurial spirit. Haywood County was the first to receive the designation.
Scotland and surrounding counties felt the economic sting early on when manufacturing jobs began shifting overseas. Unemployment in Scotland County is 15.9 percent according to US Labor statistics. The GATE program is expected to improve the odds for displaced workers like Chambers. GATE stands for: Growing America Through Entrepreneurship.
It might not seem like those who make a living off the land would have much use for broadband Internet access, but in Rutherford County technology is changing the way farmers do business. Foothills Connect is helping support sustainable agriculture and connecting small growers with consumers and restaurants.
While there is more interest and demand for fresh, locally grown food, when it comes to connecting farmers and consumers sometimes forging those relationships can be challenging. Farmhand Foods in Durham developed a business to make it easier to get fresh meats to local markets. In turn, Farmhand is helping North Carolina livestock family farms stay in business.
It's no secret historically tobacco has played an important role in North Carolina's economy. While the number of farms has declined over the past several years, the Tar heel state remains the number one tobacco producer in the country. But there is a new strain of Australian tobacco coming to the state-one you won't find in a field-but in a greenhouse. Medicago, a Canadian based biotechnology firm is building a 42 million dollar, 97,000 square foot vaccine facility in Durham.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce Boasts on their website that workers here are 10 percent more productive than the average US worker. While we can't guarantee that's true, we do know of two plants expanding their workforce in one of the state's most economically challenged areas. Elizabeth Wilder takes us inside these mcdowell county businesses to find out how they're becoming more competitive in today's marketplace.
Furniture manufacturing used to be a mainstay of North Carolina's economy. Today, many of those enormous plants sit like tombstones in communities across the state. But, after years of sitting empty. An old building atop this mountain in Spruce Pine is open once again for business.
Reuse is the key word here. This 650 thousand square foot building is now home to PRC Industries.
Heather Burgiss takes a look at the farming experience for African-American farmers in North Carolina and a new study that shows an alarming trend of black farmers losing their farmland at rising rates. We'll hear from Stanley Hughes a third generation farmer at Pine Knot Farm in Orange County. Farmer Hughes talks about what he calls a cycle of loan discrimination and uncertain times. We also talk to researchers at the University of North Carolina about what is being done to help prevent this land loss across the state.
Innovation is key in building new business in today's economy. One community in Western North Carolina found a way to link an old landfill and traditional crafts to grow new jobs. Elizabeth Wilder takes us to the Mitchell, Yancey County line to visit Michael Hatach, a glass blower. "The whole trick is blowing from the inside out," Michael Hatch. Ten wells just from the ground, trapping the methane. It's piped to the flare station then up the hill to a craft studion where, energy x-change, a nonprofit operation lies.
For decades, North Carolina was known as the furniture capital of the world. And while thousands of jobs have been lost here, there's optimism the industry will rebound. In Graham County, Stanley Furniture is operating its only plant in the United States.
Carlton Craig is in charge of product safety and compliance at the Robbinsville operation.
The sights of new industry and fresh opportunity do seem to dot the countryside of Hertford County in the north eastern corner of North Carolina. Recently Hertford County enjoyed a boom of new industry with many of those companies focused on renewable energy. Garald Cottrell, President of Wellons Energy Solutions says it's all about using the resources around them.
NC International Agriculture Opportunity
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services wants buyers in China to pick Tar Heel products. To help build relationships with international buyers, North Carolina is spending $15,000 to open its own trade office in Beijing. It seems you have to be there if you want to push your products.