Scotland Neck - Homegrown Tools

Scotland Neck, NC

Updated: 2018

Strong mayoral leadership leads this small town to implement new strategies for addressing old challenges. Scotland Neck helps its small businesses to attract tourists and attracts new industries that can employ the local workforce.

Median Household Income2020$15,404
Poverty Rate 202043.0%
Proximity to Urban Center 30 miles to Rocky Mount, N.C.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 25 miles
Case Study Time Frame 1998-2007
Municipal Budget FY20207 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
View Complete Case StudyUpdated: Scotland Neck, 2018

In 2005, Scotland Neck was recognized by the National League of Cities as a community that, through effective policies and thoughtful planning, has preserved and enriched a high quality of life. Not long ago, how- ever, this small community in eastern North Carolina was nearly left behind. After decades of economic decimation, led by the mechanization of agricultural production and followed by manufacturing industry outsourcing, Scotland Neck decided to look to its own resources, skills and people for its long-term economic development. According to the mayor, Scotland Neck’s strategy is rooted in the idea that the town is “making due with what we’ve got.” The town is leveraging its natural resources to attract tourists, supporting small businesses with local initiatives and recruiting industrial employers with labor demands that match local skills.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Don’t be shy about asking for support, and try, try and try again. “Small towns can’t take no for an answer,” the town administrator said. “With the library project, we wrote 100 grants and 99 said no. You have to keep hounding, and eventually something will turn out.” Rarely does the first try work, and Scotland Neck demonstrates that persistence pays.


Start with low-hanging fruit to demonstrate success and build momentum. When Scotland Neck was charting its plans for the DOOR Initiative, officials decided to begin with actions that would demonstrate success quickly. They gave support to local hunting and fishing guides, to start bringing more tourists into town and to show local residents that there was reason to be optimistic. This initial success helped the town leaders build momentum before beginning to tackle more intractable challenges such as job and business development.


A local membership organization can be a tool for funding local economic development. In the absence of a Chamber of Commerce or other business membership organization, Scotland Neck created the Scotland Neck Marketing Booster Club. Similar to a Chamber of Commerce, the club is a voluntary organization of businesses, industries and professionals with the dedicated purpose of promoting Scotland Neck. Annual membership dues will fund marketing and economic development efforts. The goal is to create a self-sustaining financial structure to support the DOOR Initiative.


Provide a conduit between local business interests and policy makers. Scotland Neck demonstrates how local leaders can be a voice for local business interests. Meeting regularly with local business people, Mayor Partin linked the interests of his business community to policy makers in Raleigh and beyond. For example, in an effort to help AirBoss win defense department contracts for military gloves, boots and gas masks, the town worked with the offices of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Lt. Gov. Beverly Purdue. AirBoss received two large contracts and will be locating production for these items in the company’s Scotland Neck facility.