WASHINGTON, DC (WECT) – Two members of North Carolina's Congressional Delegation are joining together to put Brunswick County back where they say it belongs.
Sen. Kay Hagan and Rep. Mike McIntyre together wrote to President Obama, asking him to reverse the decision made earlier this year by the Office of Management and Budget, moving Brunswick County out of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area and into the Myrtle Beach MSA. The OMB last week denied a request by Rep. McIntyre to reverse its decision, leading to the letter co-written and signed by the two Democrats.
"Moving Brunswick County out of the Wilmington MSA makes no sense culturally or economically," said Sen. Hagan in an email news release sent out by both members. "The county shares strong workforce and industrial ties with Wilmington – ties that have helped attract new businesses, grow the local and regional economy and make Brunswick County one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. The OMB's decision threatens this progress and will jeopardize economic development efforts and job growth in Southeastern North Carolina for years to come. I will continue working with Congressman McIntyre to reverse this decision."
McIntyre released this statement in the same news release: "For job creation, industry recruitment, and community identity, it is vital that Brunswick County be included in the Wilmington MSA! Reversing OMB's decision makes good economic, practical, and common sense, and we are strongly urging the White House to step in and do what is best for Southeastern North Carolina."
The following is taken from the letter sent to the President by Sen. Hagan and Rep. McIntyre:
"Brunswick County is one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina and one of the fastest growing on a per capita basis in the nation. It's growth has occurred while it has been under the Wilmington MSA designation and because of its own environmental and economic assets, not because of the urban core of Myrtle Beach.
"Wilmington and Myrtle Beach are very different communities with very different economies, industries, and workforces. Of particular concern is the adverse effect on economic development that this decision may have on our region. The new designation will omit access to the Wilmington International Airport and the Wilmington Port as part of Brunswick County's MSA profile. Several stakeholders have also brought it to our attention that in the past, OMB has considered commuting patterns of residents when changing MSA designations, which does not seem to have been considered in this instance. Had these patterns been considered, it would have been clear that nearly 70% of Brunswick County residents work either in Brunswick County or commute to Wilmington.
"Our business community is concerned that the recent change in MSA designation will severely diminish their ability to recruit industries to Brunswick County. All of Brunswick County's industrial parks are located in the northern part of the county because of their proximity to the Wilmington Port and Wilmington International Airport. When businesses are considering locating in metropolitan areas, proximity to amenities such as an international airport or deep-sea port are essential elements in their decision to make investments in an area. Those businesses, which access the Census Bureau website to get information on Brunswick County, will no longer be aware that the county has access to an international airport, a deep-sea port or a robust skilled labor force. Again, this would be devastating to Brunswick County's ability to attract business and create jobs."
A link to the entire letter is set up to the right of this story.
The Office of Management and Budget stood by its decision to move Brunswick County when pressed to change by Rep. McIntyre.
In a letter to Rep. McIntyre, Kristen Sarri, the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs, explained the process used by the OMB to make the switch in February. Sarri writes that according to the Census Bureau, 20,279 people in Brunswick County live in the Myrtle Beach-Socastee SC-NC Urbanized area, compared to 19,636 people in the county that live in the Wilmington Urbanized area. "A central county is associated with the urbanized area or urban cluster that accounts for the largest portion of the county's population," Sarri says in her letter.
"OMB's decision makes no practical, economic, or common sense!" Rep. McIntyre said in an email release after receiving the letter. "Anyone who knows our region understands that Brunswick County is part of the greater Wilmington area and not part of South Carolina! South Carolina was not expecting Brunswick County to become part of its Myrtle Beach urbanized area when this announcement was originally made. "
McIntyre said in the release he plans to keep working to possibly have the decision reversed. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, who marshaled resources and generated broad support for keeping Brunswick in the Wilmington MSA," he said. "We will be talking with them and local officials and looking at every possible action to continue pushing for a reasonable and sensible resolution."
Sen. Hagan also petitioned the OMB to change its decision. She wrote to Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging him to reconsider moving Brunswick County because of the long-term negative consequences it could have on the greater Southeastern North Carolina economy.
"The assertion that Brunswick County shares closer core and economic ties to Myrtle Beach than Wilmington is incorrect," Hagan wrote in her letter. "It is my strong belief that Brunswick County has shared and continues to share workforce, cultural, and industrial ties with the rest of the Wilmington MSA. I urge OMB to reconsider the decision to move Brunswick County out of the Wilmington MSA."
Click here to see a copy of Hagan's letter to the OMB.