Governor touts "Hometown Strong" initiative in Lenoir County

LENOIR COUNTY, NC (WITN) Governor Cooper was in Lenoir County Tuesday talking about a new program called Hometown Strong, aimed at helping rural communities prosper.

The initiative is working to help give rural communities like La Grange an economic boost.

Bruce Bannister owns a business there selling one of a kind gifts, but says It can be a struggle to bring new customers through the door.

Bannister says, "The biggest challenge is probably just letting people know where we are at and that we're here."

It's clear by the empty store fronts that has been a challenge for many businesses in the rural community.

Bannister says, "We think in the future it will be a great place to revive a downtown too."

Luckily, Governor Roy Cooper thinks so too.

Cooper says, "I grew up in rural eastern north Carolina and know the opportunities and the challenges our rural areas face."

Hometown Strong plans to work with local leaders and focus on projects such as infrastructure improvements, broadband access, and workforce training.

Cooper says, "Positive things are happening there, we just want to speed it up and help them do what they want to do to move their county forward."

Local business owners say investing in their county will be time and money well spent.

Bannister says, "We don't have a lot but what we do have we cherish and that's family and our faith and you know La Grange has a lot to offer."

Governor Cooper also emphasized the fact that art can help boost the economy. He pointed to Kinston as an example of how a focus on the arts can help bring people into a community.

In addition to Lenoir County, the other initial partnerships with this Hometown Strong initiative include Burke, Edgecombe, Madison, Pasquotank, and Robeson Counties.