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13 Counties Will Change Tiers Next Year

Date: 11/27/2013

Contact: Beth Gargan
Phone: 919-733-5082

RALEIGH ― N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced the county tier designations for 2014 today. The designations, which are mandated by state law, determine a variety of state funding opportunities to assist in economic development.
“Our mission is to enhance job opportunities for all North Carolinians, no matter where they live in the state,” said Secretary Decker. “The tier rankings provide critical tools that help us in various economic development programs and ultimately, help attract businesses to the state.”
Using a statutory formula outlined in the General Statue § 143B-437., the N.C. Department of Commerce assembles required statistics for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties, applies the formula and assigns a tier designation ranking from one to three. Tier 1 counties are the most economically distressed and Tier 3 counties are the least. Eligible businesses that locate in lower-tiered counties are eligible for some grant programs and larger tax credits than those that locate in higher-ranked areas.
Thirteen counties will change tier designations for 2014. Beaufort, Greene, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Surry counties will shift from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 ranking. Cherokee, McDowell, Wilkes, and Yancey counties will move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 counties. Franklin and Haywood counties, currently Tier 3 counties, will shift to a Tier 2 ranking.  Guilford and Lincoln counties will move from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 ranking.
The law calls for the 40 most distressed counties to become Tier 1 counties, the next 40 counties to be designated as Tier 2 and the 20 most prosperous counties to become Tier 3 counties.
The rankings are based on an assessment of each county’s unemployment rate, median household income, population growth, and assessed property value per capita. In addition, any county with a population of less than 12,000 or a county with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents with 19 percent or more of those people living below the federal poverty level are automatically designated as among the most distressed counties.
Tier designations determine eligibility for a number of different grant programs that the N.C. Department of Commerce administers, including the building reuse and restoration, water and sewer infrastructure, and economic innovation in rural communities grants.  Tier designations are also a factor in the state’s performance-based economic development incentive programs, the One North Carolina fund and the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program. 
For more information about the tier designation system, visit


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