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Things you may not know

Business North Carolina magazine’s daily digest on Monday included information from a two-day Pinehurst conference put together by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina with the theme “Energizing Rural North Carolina: The Building Blocks of Successful Economic Development.”

The Thursday-Friday meeting attracted representatives of more than 60 rural N.C. counties, according to the digest report. “The goal was to pump up spirits and share ideas with the 215 attendees, many of whom rarely get as much attention as peers in the state’s big metro areas.”

Recruiting business has become more competitive, the Business North Carolina Daily Digest said.

“The good news is a lot of the world is still coming, as shown by the list of largest projects in the last year, which we just published in Business North Carolina. And a number of projects  landed in rural areas — Cleveland, Edgecombe and Wilson counties were prize examples — that had prepared attractive sites and started well-conceived training programs, Dan Gerlach of Golden LEAF Foundation noted. Similar success is possible elsewhere if town leaders coalesce on their key goals, he said.”

Editor Dave Mildenberg included the following tidbits under the heading, “Stuff I didn’t know.”

• Frank Emory, chairman of conference sponsor Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, remains confident that Apple will select the Triangle for a huge East Coast office. The decision is expected soon. Other leaders at the conference shared Emory’s opinion.

• Family medicine physicians in N.C. rural areas earn about 15 percent more than urban peers, according to data cited by Anthony Viera, a department chairman at Duke University School of Medicine. They also tend to work harder since they rarely have a backup, he adds.

• North Carolina is one of six U.S. states in which three or more rural hospitals have closed in 2014, said Doug Heron, a lobbyist for Duke University and Duke LifePoint Healthcare, which owns nine N.C. hospitals.

• The state has $142 million aimed at rural districts wanting to replace aging schools. The districts must put up $1 for every $3 provided by the state.

• There are 1,000 jobs in Wilson County that are going unfilled because the workforce lacks sufficient skills. Similar trends are evident across the state, says Nathan Ramsey, director of the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board in Asheville.

• Opioid abuse is getting worse, not better, in western N.C., says Nick Byrd, a registered nurse and wellness manager who works for a regional council of government based in Marion. One of the conference’s most popular speakers, he explained his mission to reduce obesity and heart disease in low-income sections of Cleveland, Polk and Rutherford counties.

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