Oxford - Homegrown Tools

Oxford, NC

Updated: 2022

Located 30 miles north of the booming Research Triangle Park, Oxford is partnering with Granville County and its neighbors to implement a “mini-hub” approach to economic development. The strategy is to prepare relatively low-cost industrial sites that are attractive to companies that need to be near the Research Triangle, but not in it.

Population2020 8,812
Median Household Income2020$39,059
Poverty Rate 202024.4%
Proximity to Urban Center 30 miles to Durham, N.C.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 2 miles
Case Study Time Frame 2002-2007
Municipal Budget 2021-202239.2 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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Oxford, the seat of Granville County, has tethered its local economy to the development of the Kerr-Tar Mini-Hub. The mini-hub project involves four counties sharing the costs and revenues from regional economic development. Between 2000 and 2003, the Kerr-Tar region of north-central North Carolina lost 5,600 jobs from plant closures and another $655 million in revenues from reductions in tobacco quotas. The mini-hub is a regional response to these setbacks. It consists of four technology parks, one in each of the participating counties. The Town of Oxford’s role is to supply water and sewer infrastructure to the mini-hub site in Granville County. After signing an interlocal agreement and raising more than $5 million, county and municipal leaders are forging ahead with the mini-hub.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Interlocal cooperation on economic development projects is an emerging and promising strategy. Small towns, especially rural communities with limited resources, face major challenges in developing industrial parks or other infrastructure for industrial development projects. Counties and municipalities that cooperate on economic development infrastructure projects can, according to a recent report, “enjoy economies of scale and cost savings and pursue projects that otherwise might not be feasible.” In exchange for its investment in water/sewer infrastructure, Oxford, as a municipality in the Kerr-Tar region, expects to share in the economic spillovers that result from increasing regional investments.


Look broadly at the regional resources that might be built upon to support economic development. The mini-hub concept being employed in the Kerr-Tar region benefits from the resources and opportunities being created in RTP. The communities in this region, including Oxford, have been willing to look outside the immediate area to tap into assets that may drive the decisions of firms to locate in their mini-hub parks.