Steve Brantley

OC Economic Officials Say Development Key To Social Justice

CHAPEL HILL – Orange County is by many measures the most affluent county in North Carolina, but its poverty rate is also well above the state average—a striking statistic that’s troubling for residents who say they’re committed to progressive values like social and economic justice. It’s a reality that’s existed for years, and there’s no easy or quick solution. But local economic development leaders say attracting the right kind of business to the area may offer a boost to those living at or below the poverty line—not to mention those who can’t afford to live in Orange County at all. “I was talking to (CHCCS Superintendent) Tom Forcella recently about the number of teachers that teach in our public schools that actually can afford to live in Chapel Hill–(and) that number’s very low,” says local entrepreneur Jim Kitchen. “I was talking to (Chapel Hill Police Chief) Chris Blue about the same thing for policemen and women and other public servants, and that number’s very low.” Kitchen made that comment at a panel on economic development during Thursday’s Community Forum on WCHL. Economic inequality was a key point of concern at the forum, not only for Kitchen but for all his fellow panelists—Orange County Economic Development Director Steve Brantley, Chapel Hill Planning Board member Amy Ryan, Carrboro Economic Development Director Annette Stone, and Chapel Hill Town Council member Jim Ward....

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