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Brunswick County residents struggle with sagging job numbers

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The numbers for unemployment in North Carolina for December came out earlier this week. Brunswick County had the biggest jump in our area from November, so we decided to put a face to the statistics.

Brunswick County's unemployment rate jumped from 10.5 percent in November to 11.9 percent in December.

The Employment Security Commission office in Shallotte was full of people working on getting work today. When we asked about the large increase in unemployment in the last month, people said things slow down in the area when it gets cold.

Ann Santilian works as a nurse, but says her hours have been cut drastically because of the economy. Now, she says she's just trying to put food on the table for her family.

"It makes it hard to pay your bills," Santilian said. "You know I have a mortgage that I've got to pay, and when you put your money toward your mortgage, that doesn't leave a lot of money for food, so I'm just trying to struggle to get by."

The ESC office in Shallote is available to people to work on their resumes and other skills that will make them more desirable for potential employers.

People that we talked with say the most important thing to do to fight unemployment is to keep trying to apply to different jobs. They also say you may have to lower your standards for what you expect to get in order to pay your bills.

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Economic Development Backlash

Brunswick County put all their eggs in real estate development the past 10 years. The county sent tax notices in 2011, revaluated property values a few months later, and sent notices resulting in 20% to 60 percent decreases in property values. I have personally witnessed foreclosures increase 1000% since Jan. 2010. Our local community banks are on the verge of collapse. I have watched business after business close. The county provides minimal assistance for small business promotion and economic recovery assistance. Watch for 2012 to be the record year of "we cant pay our property tax" in Brunswick.

The northern part of the county commonly referred to as North Brunswick County is growing due to its location as a suburb of Wilmington. 80% of property is listed and sold with New Hanover County real estate brokerages. 80% of Leland businesses are of Wilmington/New Hanover County origin. The main business catalyst in this area is real estate, banks, and heath care services. All one has to do is drive through the Leland area to notice its rapid transformation comparable to suburbia Hilton Head Island.

Look at the brand new Brunswick County economic development site and you will note Leland is the primary focus:
- http://www.brunswickedc.com/sites-buildings/available-sites
- http://www.brunswickedc.com/sites-buildings/leland-industrial-park

When you have a county whose top employers are ATMC (telephone membership co-op), BEMC (electric membership co-op), Brunswick County (government), and education (Schools)....what conclusion would one derive on future economic growth? Note, I didn't include Walmart due to its documented practice of hiring part-timers, not to mention worldwide distribution headquarters located in China.

Our citizens are tired of Brunswick County's reputation as one of the TOP NC counties for scandals and corruption. A monumental change is needed in Brunswick.