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Many Left Behind Even as North Carolina's Biggest Cities Thrive

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Photo: Raleigh's economy is booming overall, but according to the latest State of the South report not everyone is reaping the economic rewards. Photo credit: Jmalljmall/Wikimedia Commons.
Photo: Raleigh's economy is booming overall, but according to the latest State of the South report not everyone is reaping the economic rewards. Photo credit: Jmalljmall/Wikimedia Commons.
 By Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC, Contact
November 11, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. - Business is booming for some North Carolina cities, namely Raleigh and Charlotte, both of which made Forbes magazine's recent rating of "Best Places for Business and Careers."

While that's good news for those riding the upswing, the new State of the South report from MDC Incorporated finds not everyone is poised to take advantage of the recovering economy. Richard Hart, communications director with MDC Incorporated, says the rising tide is not lifting all boats.

"These are thriving cities," he says. "We are enjoying the better end of a bad economy, and our cities in particular are doing very well - but when you look at those cities you see not everyone is doing as well as everyone else."

While a recent United Nations report predicts Raleigh and Charlotte will grow by 70 percent by 2030, Census figures show the number of residents living in poverty in both cities has doubled since 2000. Many of those living in poverty are the cities' youngest residents. The report recommends the communities engage their schools, businesses and community action agencies to work together to provide greater youth opportunities.

According to the State of the South report, North Carolina's 15 to 24 population has increased by 21 percent since 2000, making it all the more important for communities to successfully engage the population.

"What communities really need is an infrastructure of mobility," says Hart. "The connection of all the pieces in that puzzle, to set a goal for what they want their young people to achieve - and to work together to accomplish that."

In K-12 public education, spending per pupil declined in all southern states, including North Carolina. According to the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, when adjusted for inflation, per-pupil spending declined by almost $500 dollars in North Carolina from 2008 to 2014.

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