LAURINBURG — The local economy is improving, but according to city and county officials there is always room for improvement.
The Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber will hold its annual State of the Community breakfast on Friday at 7:30 a.m. at the Laurinburg Presbyterian Church. Tickets for the breakfast are $6 and can be purchased at the door.
“The goal is to get the word out to the community,” said Chris English, executive director of the Chamber. “The city and county managers — they speak to council and their commissioners on a monthly basis, but this is an opportunity for the public to come out and hear their side and see what exactly is going on inside the city of Laurinburg and the county.”
Those in attendance will hear from City Manager Charles Nichols, County Manager Kevin Patterson and Scotland County Economic Development Director Mark Ward, as they give their takes on the state of Scotland County and Laurinburg.
“I want people to show up on Friday,” Ward said, which is why he chose not to expand on what he is going to discuss during the State of the Community.
“I hope citizens will come out an hear exactly what is going on in the county,” he said.
Ward did share that he plans to discuss “where we have been, what we have done in the past year, and where we hope to be.”
He also plans to discuss unemployment over the last few years and how Scotland County’s figures have improved over the last year. Last year, the county saw a 1.1 percent decrease in unemployment, which was the third largest decrease out all 100 counties in the state.
“We can still improve upon our unemployment rate,” Ward said. “We can get that lower, that is the goal — to attract more industry to gain more jobs and retain more jobs.”
According to Patterson, the local economy has continued to grow and progress since the 2008 recession, but there is still room for improvement.
“We have not seen massive changes in the economy, but again, we saw last January Pioneer’s expansion, and this January we also announced Mountaire,” said Patterson. “So we are still seeing continual industrial growth in the area, which is always a positive improvement for us. There is definitely economic growth in the community and we are moving further away from the recession.”
With the newly announced Mountaire feed mill, Scotland County continues to grow its industrial sector year after year — with the expansions and additions at FCC of N.C., Cascades, and BlueScope Buildings. The county has made major industrial announcements for the past six consecutive years.
From the stand point of the city, Nichols explained that revitalizing downtown is a major step in bringing in new business and boosting the local economy in the coming year.
“Things are heading in the right direction with the downtown development and investment that is going on with the push from city council and private investors,” said Nichols. “Downtown serves as an important role in the local economy.”
Nichols also believes the Pioneer expansion and the Mountaire feed mill will help the Laurinburg economy tremendously.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171