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Bank Leaders Visit Northeastern North Carolina

During a recent visit to Greenville, Edenton and Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the Richmond Fed’s Community Conversations team learned about infrastructure and technology challenges facing small towns in the region, while noting the potential to address these issues with a regional approach.

In a two-day series of in-person and virtual conversations with the NCEast Alliance, ECU Health, leaders of East Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University, leaders from Hertford and Washington counties, and other business and community representatives, Bank President Tom Barkin and Matt Martin, regional executive for North Carolina and South Carolina, developed an appreciation for what makes each town and county in the region distinct.

“Almost everyone we talked to was really happy to be able to tell their story,” Martin said.

He noted how part of Hertford County’s story is the concerted efforts of leaders to build connections across borders. While the county sits in North Carolina, leaders are making strides in strengthening economic development ties with a larger nearby city, Suffolk, Virginia, whose thriving economy lends the opportunity for Hertford to serve as an exurb and source of employees.

It is a model that could be beneficial to some of the other smaller towns in the area, the Community Conversations team determined, specifically in terms of exchanging information and ideas about ways to strengthen infrastructure.

Bank leaders also discussed workforce development efforts, rural health care initiatives and the challenges of building out broadband connectivity despite the availability of additional resources.

As a result of the visit, Bank leaders now have a better understanding of the economic challenges and opportunities facing the region, Martin said.

“The communities we visited have clear priorities for growing the local economy. They also have creative leaders who are working hard to put all the pieces together to make it happen.”

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