Laurinburg, NC – Dec. 2021
Like a lot of rural communities in North Carolina, Laurinburg is looking to build its economy by leveraging the resources available to it.
In this case, one of those resources is the creation of an interstate corridor that begins in North Carolina’s southern-most counties before turning north to Winston-Salem, and then Mt. Airy and then exits the state into Virginia – Interstate 74. Designated in 2013, the interstate construction has occurred in phases, but for Laurinburg, the effects are now being seen, even as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted some of the progress.
“We see this as an opportunity to enhance our retail business footprint and then to build off of that to create wider economic growth,” said Charles Nichols III, Laurinburg’s City Manager.
Over the past three years, despite the negative effects of the pandemic on job growth across the state and the country, Laurinburg has seen eight retail establishments begin operation creating 124 jobs and generating nearly $12 million in annual sales.
Meanwhile, data compiled at the state level shows a lot of potential business activity in Laurinburg and surrounding Scotland County.
One response to the pandemic has been more people forming their own business. Statewide, nearly 127,000 new businesses filed with the N.C. secretary of state’s Business Registration Division in 2020. That represents a 27% increase over 2019. And Scotland County saw the most growth out of all counties, with 252 new business filings.
Obviously, it is too soon to know the true impact of those filings and what type of economic growth and job opportunities they represent. It is, though, another positive sign for a community – like many in rural North Carolina – looking to redefine its economy after seeing manufacturing job losses in early decades.
The establishment of the Scotland County Campus of RCC, a small business innovation center created through partnership of Laurinburg, Scotland County and Richmond Community College, plants more seeds for small business growth and offers workforce and economic development classes. The campus recently received full campus designation by the State Board of Community Colleges which has made education and career training more accessible for the people of this community.