City and County Convene Meeting to Discuss Tier 1 Opportunities
(Fayetteville, N.C.) —Mayor Mitch Colvin and County Commission Chair Jeannette Council met with N.C. Department of Commerce representatives and community leaders on Tuesday, Jan. 15 to discuss ways to seek funding opportunities under Cumberland County’s Tier 1 designation. Tier 1 counties are generally the 40 most economically distressed in the state.
The N.C. Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 30 that Cumberland County was among several counties in the state that had moved from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 designation. County tiers are calculated using four factors: average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage population growth and adjusted property tax base per capita. In 2018, the N.C. General Assembly eliminated several additional adjustment factors that were previously used to calculate final rankings and this change affected several counties across the state.
Department of Commerce officials explained that the Tier system is incorporated into various state programs to encourage economic activity in less prosperous areas of our state. The system was first created in 1996 to calculate tax credits for businesses and previously divided the state’s 100 counties into five tiers. The Tier system evolved to the current three-tier system over a decade ago, with the 40 most distressed counties placed into Tier 1, 40 counties in Tier 2 and the least distressed 20 counties in Tier 3.
“This Tier 1 designation creates an opportunity for Cumberland County and Fayetteville. Certain economic incentive programs offer more favorable benefits as a result of the Tier 1 designation. This is not a label, but a ranking, and it can help the region obtain funds to assist in its economic development,” said George Sherrill, Chief of Staff, N.C. Department of Commerce.
“We gathered not to point fingers or blame, but to discuss our future,” said Mayor Mitch Colvin. “We need to take a look at ourselves as a community, see where we are at, and determine what we want this area to be. This Tier 1 designation, if we take advantage of it, will help us move forward on that journey.”
“The conversation was beneficial on many levels. Most importantly, it brought into focus the need to research and seek grant funding and program opportunities that are available to Tier 1 counties,” said Jeannette Council, chair of the Board of County Commissioners.
At the meeting, the community leaders discussed ideas on how the group could capitalize on this situation to move both their organizations, and the collective community, forward as a whole. The region is only under this designation for one year, as the state re-ranks the counties yearly and it is imperative that the organizations in attendance move quickly to determine their short-term needs and what actions can be taken to move Cumberland County up on the economic development scale.
Meeting attendees will share the discussions with their respective organizations in order to develop short-term goals that can be implemented to quickly capitalize on the Tier 1 designation before the ratings are re-evaluated. The group will reconvene in February to discuss the next steps on what their organizations can do to move forward, and coordinate efforts across the community to best benefit the County and City as a whole.
Representatives from the following groups attended Tuesday’s meeting:
- NC Department of Commerce
- City of Fayetteville, City Council and Management
- Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Management, and Workforce Development Board
- Cumberland County Mayors’ Coalition
- Cumberland County Schools and Board of Education
- Cape Fear Valley Health
- Methodist University
- Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation
- Fayetteville State University
- Fayetteville Technical Community College
- Fort Bragg, Garrison Command
- Public Works Commission
- Town of Hope Mills
- Town of Spring Lake