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Whiteville: Poised for growth

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COLUMBUS COUNTY -- There's no doubt the Cape Fear region is growing. Over the next 12 years to 2020 the entire area will see more people, highways, construction -- all of the things that make for the fastest growing region in the state. Some say we're going too fast. But some people who live in Columbus County, say they wish it would grow a little faster. Whiteville residents who think their area should be a lot more popular and populated. Whiteville means a lot to Jeep salesman Charles Dew. He's lived in the Columbus County town his whole life. When he leaves, he's often surprised at how little it means to everyone else. Dew said, "A lot of the people will say I never heard of Whiteville. Or I've never been to Whiteville, but why is that? That wasn't always the case. Decades ago downtown Whiteville was bustling with activity. The area took a hit in the 1990s when area textile factories shut down, leaving many people who lived there, unemployed. Dew said, "If you could get more jobs into this area, I think the whole economy in Columbus County would escalate." Bill Clark is in his first week as Columbus County manager. He already knows the area needs to be mindful of how it grows. But he says with all the growth in surrounding counties Columbus is on its way up. Clark said, "We're kind of in a transition period here as far as our county goes, and I think we're poised to take advantage of our location in southeastern North Carolina." A new Lowe's Home Improvement store opened in Whiteville this past December. Clark estimates that it brought nearly 150 new jobs to the area. "I think we've pretty much come through the nineties," Clark said. " I think we are poised for growth." Residents like dew hope they'll see more of that growth sooner rather than later. "We need a lot more of that. It's put people to work. It's kind of turned people's attitude around where they feel much better about the economy," Clark said. This past December the unemployment rate was more than six percent in Columbus County. That's more than one percent higher than the state and national unemployment rates. Clark doesn't want people to be discouraged by those numbers; there are plans to bring more jobs to the area in the near future. For example a new state prison is planned for Columbus County, which would create about 500 jobs.

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Whiteville has seen better days

I have to agree with some of the other folks that "fled" Whiteville. I was raised in Whiteville and by the time I was 16 I saw the writing on the wall. Unless I could get a scholarship or my parents won the lottery I wasn't going to college. I chose to go in the USAF and have been satisfied with that decision. I love Whiteville and Columbus County, but I seriously doubt that I will ever retire there once my time in the USAF is done. It doesn't take much research to see (pickup the latest News Reporter) that the schools are terrible and drug use and crime is absolutely out of control. I also agree that the city destroyed what little teenagers did enjoy. I was a big cruiser in the early 90's and never had trouble with anyone. In fact the cruising and hanging out downtown and at the courthouse were some of my favorites times in high school. What happened is that you have some "elite" folks in Whiteville that just couldn't stand some little folks having a good time and put an end to it. The county commissioners haven't helped. There are some good ones, but a majority of them don't give a rat's butt about that city/county. You wonder why you can't get any large nice chain restaurants and businesses (other than fast food and Wal-Mart) to come to town? I truly hope things get turned around and Whiteville flourishes in the future, but it won't happen anytime soon. It will take decades to replace all of the jobs stripped from that area. God Bless!

whiteville

maybe whiteville will develop into a decent place to live. right now it is just a redneck,kkk,hole in the middle of no mans land. i am glad i don't have to live in that god forsaken wasteland.

Yeah Whiteville sucks.

Yeah Whiteville sucks.

Whiteville?

I lived in Whiteville for 36 years and then I moved to Atlanta, GA for a few years. I have come back here now to take care of my mother. I'm old now, but I am very blessed that I had more things to engage in here way back in the days than the teenagers have to do here now. I've was told by my nephew that they just hang out in the Walmart parking lot and drink! I did not believe it at first, but now I have realized that it is true. It is a pure shame that Whiteville has nothing more for their teenagers!!!

Whiteville and Columbus County

I'm 22 and I was born and brought up here in Whiteville. So far in my lifetime I've seen a great deal of loss and some growth of our town. Whiteville may be growing slowly, but I agree that we definitely need quite a boost to get from a rural poor county to a prospering place that is desirable to move to!

I've 25 and I've lived my

I've 25 and I've lived my whole life in whiteville. Yeah, it is growing slowly, but needs quite a boost to really grow into something.

A sad, sad town

I grew up in Whiteville and the town has never recovered from the losses of jobs in the 90s. Between the loss of United Carolina Bank, Whiteville Apparel and other factories, the town is a shadow of its former self. The disappearance of full-time jobs at places like Dupont and IP also hurt. There's simply no employment left. What's left is a number of bottom-feeder operations like the nursing homes and medical supply companies - places that work people for a quarter of the wages they'd get in places like Raleigh and provide cheap, substandard service for people who either do not care or can't afford better. And a Super Wal-Mart. I fled as soon as I could, as do the vast majority of other young people who can. It didn't help that the last few years I was in town, the Whiteville city government decided to go to war against its teenage population. If young people did it, they banned it. I can't imagine raising a child in Whiteville now. Between the drugs, violence and lack of opportunity, it's a miracle anyone gets out of that town intact today. The biggest irony? Most of the Chamber of Commerce, realtor and other boosters of the town when I was growing up have moved to Southport and Shallotte. Even the folks whose job it was to make the town look good have fled.

I agree with you. I finally

I agree with you. I finally got out of Whiteville and now I am enjoying life in Wilmington. When I finish college I have no intentions of going back to Columbus County because I probably wouldn't be able to get a decent job there, even with my degree.