NC Commerce Releases 2020 County Distress Rankings; Centralina Region Remains the Same

The 2020 distress ranking designations for the state of North Carolina are based on economic factors and the tiers determine eligibility for several state programs. The nine counties in the Centralina Region (Anson, Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union) keep the same tier designations as in 2019.

The North Carolina General Assembly (G.S. §143B-437.08) describes tier rankings ranging from one to three. Tier 1 counties are generally the most economically distressed and tier 3 counties are generally the least economically distressed, based on four economic factors: unemployment rate, median household income, population growth, and assessed property value per capita.

Tier designations determine eligibility for certain N.C. Commerce grant programs, including the One North Carolina Fund, Building Reuse, Water and Sewer Infrastructure, and the Downtown Revitalization Main Street program. The tiers also play a role in the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program, which channels funds from the state to less populated areas to improve infrastructure.

In 2020, only seven out of 100 counties were re-ranked, with a total of 40 counties designated as Tier 1, 40 as Tier 2 and 20 as Tier 1.

Tier 1: Anson
Tier 2: Gaston, Rowan, Stanly
Tier 3: Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union