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Triangle East Chamber Presents 2021 State of the Region Event

On Tuesday, October 12th, the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2021 State of the Region: Growing Greater Together. The event focused on the results of the 2020 census and the growth in Johnston County’s population since the prior 2010 census. 


Triangle East community leaders were invited to share updates. Mayor Donald Rains of Princeton shared the increase in downtown occupancy and the current work being done to rectify flooding challenges. Mayor Cheryl Oliver of Selma shared the many new additions to downtown Selma, while stressing the importance of processes, technology, and personnel to manage growth in upcoming years. Wendy Oldham, development compliance officer with Wilson’s Mills, reiterated the rapid growth evinced in Wilson’s Mills by over 3,300 incoming housing builds. Smithfield’s Economic Development Director, Tim Kerigan, shared the increase of industrial growth and jobs, along with the need for all towns to work together for future transportation plans. All town leaders were united in their emphasis on the importance of partnership between the towns and with the county to work together on behalf of the region’s future. 


Johnston County Commissioner, Patrick Harris, also focused on the need for collaboration in the county.  Commissioner Harris’ update included how Johnston County has been ”active in moving infrastructural projects forward” (for example, the new detention center to be completed in 2022 and the Public Safety Building expected to be completed in early 2023), the focus on “growth efforts on existing municipalities along the I-95 corridor”,  and the nearly billion dollars in new investments throughout the county during the last 18-24 months. With intention set upon bringing opportunities for employment within the county, a new director hired to oversee parks, open space, and greenways, and 5.5 million dollars set aside to assist towns with drainage-related issues, Johnston County is working in a variety of ways to keep improving the quality of life for residents. 


Lee Worsley, Executive Director of the Triangle J Council of Governments, was the keynote speaker and focused on numbers from the census. Johnston County was found to be the fastest growing county in the state of North Carolina. While the state had a 9.5% growth overall, Johnston County experienced a 27.9% increase. The data from 2020 was evidence that growth is trending eastward in Johnston County, with larger growth in the unincorporated areas. Unlike much of the state, percentage-wise “growth in children in JoCo” was faster than overall state adult growth. In Johnston County, the number of children under 18 grew by 8,926. 


Along with the opportunities for economic development, Worsley emphasized the importance of getting an early start to prepare for the continuing growth to get ahead of the challenges as it relates to infrastructure, technology like broadband access, transportation, and even the opportunity to create age friendly communities. The unique perspective the census numbers has provided into current and future trends allows Johnston County to proactively shape communities as they grow. 


Mark McDonnell, chair of the Triangle East Chamber Board of Directors, shared that “I would like to thank everyone for participating in our State of the Region event. It is comforting to know that the leaders of the Triangle East Region are preparing our communities for the challenges of our current and future growth.”


The entire State of the Region presentation can be found at


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