Closing out a busy 2017, this weekly newsletter will take a rest over the holidays and will return in 2018. We hope you enjoy your celebrations with family and have a happy New Year. Thank you for reading.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that the Tar Heel state had reached an estimated 10.3 million population count as of July 1, 2017 and is the ninth most populous state in the U.S. According to a briefing from State Demographer Michael E. Cline, North Carolina added more heads between April 2010 and July 2017 than did New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio combined. The population grew by nearly 738,000 people, with in-migration accounting for 64 percent of the growth. The state added nearly 117,000 people in the year before July 2017, which was nation's fifth fastest numeric growth in that period. Cline said the Census Bureau's estimates jibe with the projection his office made in October that 10.6 million people will be living in North Carolina by 2020. Idaho is presently the nation's fastest growing state, according to news coverage of the latest numbers.
Awaiting the president's signature at the time of this writing is a major overhaul of the the U.S. tax code following final approval from Congress on Wednesday. (News reports differ on when the president is likely to sign the bill -- either Friday or not until January.) The bill's development had concerned local government leaders from the outset, when separate House and Senate versions included cuts or rollbacks on programs of value to cities. But groups including the National League of Cities say the urging of city officials and residents to preserve these programs led to a better final bill. Earlier this year, the League signed on to a letter to members of Congress, organized by a national coalition, urging the preservation of the federal Historic Tax Credit. Members of the N.C. Mayors Association, an affiliate of the League, also met with members of U.S. Rep. George Holding's staff about the importance of the credit to communities around the country. That credit remains in the final bill in modified form, as does the tax exemption for private activity bonds. Prior versions of the bill threatened their existence. "Congress has confirmed once again that incentivizing the rehabilitation of our historic buildings makes good economic sense," the National Trust for Historic Preservation said of the Historic Tax Credit. The New Markets Tax Credit also remains. NLC has produced a rundown of what tax reform means for cities. The U.S. Conference of Mayors released its own statement about of concern about the overhaul. In other news, Congress also passed a stopgap measure on Thursday averting a government shutdown.
North Carolina clicked with numerous economic development news stories this week, starting with a good few centered on Morganton. On Thursday, the city announced receipt of a $277,540 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to improvement downtown infrastructure expected to benefit nine businesses and 64 households. The city will match that grant dollar for dollar. "The City pursues all opportunities for outside funding resources to help promote economic development projects of all types," a press release from the city said. Earlier this month, German vinyl company VEKA announced plans to invest $18 million in a new Morganton facility with 102 jobs following help from the city, Burke County and the state. Such city-county-state collaboration also led to another announcement there on Thursday, when Greenworks Tools said it would invest $10 million in a new distribution center with 187 jobs. "All Greenworks product coming into the U.S. will come through this distribution center," the Morganton News Herald newspaper quoted of Mayor Ronnie Thompson. A fourth announcement for Morganton landed Thursday with a $230,000 building reuse grant to support a renovation that would add 23 jobs.
Also this week, Gov. Roy Cooper's office announced the "largest-ever manufacturing investment in rural North Carolina" with Triangle Tyre's plan to create 800 jobs and invest nearly $580 million in Edgecombe County. A press release says the project is estimated to contribute beyond $2.4 billion to the state's economy. "Triangle Tyre strongly believes that the project will blossom with beautiful flowers and bear the most abundant fruits in the U.S., a developed nation on wheels," said Ding Yuhua, chairman of Triangle Group and Triangle Tyre, in a press release. "We will give back the fruits to the people of North Carolina with our utmost sincerity." Multiple partners including the state, the N.C. Railroad Company, Golden LEAF and others contributed to the outcome. Among others: 200 jobs and a $2.7 million investment in Morrisville; 428 jobs with $275 million in investments in Edgecombe and Durham counties; as many as 200 jobs with a $30 million investment in and around Bessemer City; and hundreds more jobs with $72.8 million in investments in the Charlotte area. The N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority also this month approved 21 grant requests totaling nearly $7.2 million aiding a number of municipalities around the state.
Additional aid for areas struggling after Hurricane Matthew could be on its way, according to the governor's office. The U.S. House approved an $81 million disaster relief bill on Thursday, and Gov. Cooper said it could "potentially help North Carolina repair or buy out hundreds more homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew, while also helping states and territories across the country recover from the devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017." The bill still needs Senate approval.
Among the new appointees to the National League of Cities' (NLC) varied federal advocacy committees is Winston-Salem City Council Member Dan Besse, who is joining the 2018 Transportation Infrastructure Services Committee. "Federal funding and rules have an enormous impact on our transportation system, including streets, highways, transit, sidewalks and bike paths here in Winston-Salem and elsewhere in North Carolina,â€ Council Member Besse said in a statement released by the City of Winston-Salem. "Itâ€™s critical that our community has a seat at the table in influencing how that funding is directed." NLC President Mark Stodola, the mayor of Little Rock, Ark., called service on the organization's committees "one of the most effective ways for a local official to advocate for their community in Washington." More information about these committees is at nlc.org/advocacy/committees.