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March 26, 2007

What makes North Carolina tick?

Some North Carolina counties are growing faster than others. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says that education may play a major role.

"Well, I think I have a partial answer here because I've looked at this in terms of my own research, and many other folks in many institutions have looked at it," says Dr. Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist. "And I think we all come to one simple answer, and it may sound simple but it is very important. And that is education.

"What you find over the last 30 years if you look ... at North Carolina counties is that counties with more educated workers or counties that have had the biggest increases in their educated workforce have grown faster. And I might say that this is after you account for all the other things that could effect successful counties," Walden adds.

"Now there is one caveat though to the findings -- my findings and the findings of others -- and that is the impact of education seems to be much greater in urbanized counties than in rural counties," he adds. "One reason may be that in urbanized counties there's more ability for education to work its magic because there are more people to interact with and communicate with and sort of feed off of each other. Another factor that we find in rural counties is that often the educated workers will pick up and leave. There is a brain drain from rural counties to urban counties.

"But bottom line here, education is the big moving force behind economic development in North Carolina."

Posted by deeshore at March 26, 2007 08:36 AM

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