Economic Basket Has a Lot of Eggs
It's all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Or so we keep hearing, and employment opportunities surely do top the list of needs here and elsewhere. But Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress, posed a relevant and potentially disturbing question at a recent business retreat sponsored by the county Board of Commissioners: What if we create jobs but there's nobody here who can take them?
It's already happening to a degree, Corso told the gathering of local governmental and business leaders at the Senior Resource Center. He hears frequently from plant managers who complain that they have positions available but sometimes must turn to other counties to recruit machinists and maintenance workers and other trained specialists capable of handling them.
Nothing for Granted
If that's so, the obvious place to turn to is Sandhills Community College. And Corso told the group that he had already talked with SCC President Dr. John Dempsey. Dempsey, in turn, indicated that he is considering convening a special summit of industries and educators to confer on how best to address the problem.
This sounds like a natural way to correct what might be a bit of a disconnect between changing employment demand and sluggishly responding supply.
John Parker, who grew up in Moore County and now runs a Raleigh-based firm called Good Works, noted that the process works both ways. Noting that his organization seeks to create jobs through a concept called creative entrepreneurship, he added: "It's been said that I teach people how to fish, but it takes more than learning how to fish. People also need access to the pond."
Corso also warned his colleagues against taking anything for granted - including the steady influx of retirees that forms one of the mainstays of the local economy. Retired folks don't fill jobs, typically, but they do bring a lot of money with them, a good deal of which they spend locally.
The fact that this inflow of new residents has been so dependable for so long doesn't mean it will always be there, Corso reminded, and local entities need to make more of a conscious effort to attract this particular segment of the population - which for obvious reasons has quite a bit of built-in turnover and needs constant replenishment.
Tourism on Rise Again
Even more ephemeral, but ultimately of central importance to the economic mix in these parts, is the constant arrival and departure of tourists and other temporary visitors. And Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, offered welcome news that his business is up.
Tourism, which fell off sharply when the national economy went south, picked up during 2011 for the first time in years, Miles told the group. Spending by visitors to the county, which reached a peak of $350 million in 2008, dropped below $325 million in 2009. But it was back up to $342 million and climbing in 2010.
Those figures don't even include the major expense of lodging, factoring in only other expenditures like shopping, dining and entertainment. And it gets better. Stand by for a major uptick in all categories of spending when the back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open come roaring through in 2014.
More like this story