The State of Our Local Economy was a celebration of our successes over the past year and an important step in setting a precedence for future events. Attendees were impressed with the depth and importance of the data provided and implications for the future of Onslow County. Within hours after the event, JOED had received numerous requests for the data to share with others.
We would like to thank all who attended, our sponsor, presenters, and most importantly—our Investors. Without your support, we could not have realized this year’s successes! If you missed the event, you can see the video on G-10 or on JOED’s YouTube channel.
Chairman Susan Edwards welcomed Investors and other attendees, thanked our sponsor ECS and River of Life Church for hosting the event. We welcomed six new Directors to the Board: Jeb Brown, Scott Franko, Harry Brown, Roy Herrick, Charles Rawls, and Matt Gadams. JOED also thanks its Directors whose terms expired: Mike Alford, Randy Tomsic, Kelly Glass, and Mat Raymond III.
After conducting the requisite JOED Annual Investor business meeting, she noted that while challenged by the pandemic, and a reduced staff of two, JOED worked a historically high number of projects, and expanded membership and scope of services. She was proud to report that JOED remained on the job through pandemic.
Outgoing Past Chairman Joey Carter followed, elaborating on this year’s accomplishments: 24 Requests for Proposals, 19 Site Visits, 3 Industrial Groundbreakings, and 1 Industrial Ribbon-Cutting. JOED received 247 requests for assistance, ranging from workforce concerns to COVID impacts and “pivots”, and from regulatory hurdles to broadband challenges Additionally, JOED assisted businesses and local governments successfully garner economic development grants totaling $1.7M. He noted that Shell Building #2 was sold for asking price and described the value of shell buildings, since 90% of the RFI’s that JOED receives stipulate an existing building requirement.
Our regional partner, North Carolina’s Southeast facilitated many of those RFI’s, as well as provided $80,000 in CARES funding for Onslow Memorial Hospital, and provided us with a professional, no-cost-to JOED drone video of Camp Davis Industrial Park Phase 2.
Mr. Carter outlined the Return on Investment of this year’s work: $8.7M of private investment was brought into our county. Combining new industry and existing industry expansion, 232 new jobs were created, which generated $10.6M in new payroll and created $5.78M additional disposable income. These increases brought new annual property tax revenue of $95,265 as well as $212,000 in new sales taxes.
He noted his proudest JOED accomplishment was the partnership with Buxton. With its sophisticated market intelligence and analysis, Buxton identified 25 highly recognizable companies that are a “good fit” for Onslow County. Targeted marketing efforts are underway to attract those companies and address costly retail leakage from our county.
JOED Board member, Commissioner Royce Bennett began with the good news that Onslow County is growing. Yet, that good news brings challenges, primarily in our housing market. He noted that with over 10% population growth, Onslow County will need an additional 10,000 homes within 5 years!
Other good news: private sector wages grew from $30,859 in 2020 (fourth lowest in NC) to $32,760 in 2021 (ninth lowest in NC). While wages are still not where we want them to be, they ARE going in the right direction. Our county also was moved into a less distressed tier—from tier 1 to tier 2, which is deserving of optimism. Overall, Onslow County’s consumer activity last year was higher than the NC average. Commissioner Bennett summarized with 3 words: Growth, Consistency, and Opportunity.
Our keynote speaker Ted Abernathy promised to help us see the “Road Ahead”, and he certainly delivered! “Everything is changing. Everything.” Between 2019 and 2021, and often fueled by the pandemic, robotics have been pushed forward by nearly 10 years, and remote work will continue in many hybrid forms. The pandemic has changed how industries and companies do business, how employees work, customer behaviors and expectations, and how our communities respond.
He applauded the State of North Carolina for meeting some valuable standards of business climate “reputation” with outcomes proven through data
He also noted that North Carolina is growing in the job growth areas anticipated for the future. North Carolina is in the top 15 states in tech occupation growth. North Carolina Economic Development Partnership (NCEDP) was ranked the #1 Economic Development group in the country. Our state had relatively low COVID 19 impacts.
In the US, companies and individuals are “sitting on cash”. There is an excess of $2T in savings in the US right now. Consumer and business confidence are on the rise. All these factors point to numerous opportunities for Onslow County and North Carolina business!