While it’s cherished for its historic locales, Craven County also has an eye on the future with its diverse and thriving economy. The region has industry leaders in education, health, service and manufacturing. Craven County Schools and local universities provide both learning and employment opportunities to residents. CarolinaEast Medical Center, a 350-bed facility, employs more than 250 physicians who direct a health care team of more than 2,100 professionals. The county’s larger employer, however, is the Department of Defense, with MCAS Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East both calling Craven County home.
The Craven County Economic Development organization is a leading resource for businesses, aiding both entrepreneurs and major industries within the region. The group provides business solutions to help enterprises grow. Its website, http://cravenbusiness.com, has helpful information on financial resources and incentives, local demographics, small business resources and available business properties.
Median household income in Craven County is $47,295, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state income tax rate is 5.75 percent.
Did you know Craven County is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola? In 1898, Caleb Bradham invented the drink in his New Bern drugstore. Today, Craven County continues its successful entrepreneurial streak with a number of global manufacturers. Local businesses include BSH Home Appliances Corp., Moen, Hatteras Yachts and Weyerhaeuser. BSH is the world’s third-largest leading manufacturer of high-end appliances and sells under the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau brands. Moen is a leading faucet brand in North America, manufacturing kitchen and bath faucets, showerheads, accessories, bath safety products and kitchen sinks for residential and commercial applications. Hatteras Yachts has been an industry leader in the production of sport fishing convertibles and luxury motor yachts for more than 50 years. Hatteras was the first production builder to produce a fiberglass yacht of more than 40 feet. The company has pioneered many of the technologies used today in the marine industry, including state-of-the-art hull designs, lamination techniques and propulsion systems. Weyerhaeuser grows and harvests trees, builds homes and makes forest products such as softwood lumber, pulp, paper and packaging products.
Additional manufacturers and businesses in the county can be found in the Craven County Industrial Park. The industrial park is at the intersection of U.S. Route 70 and Clarks Road just outside New Bern. This location provides convenient access to other nearby cities such as Greenville, Jacksonville, Kinston, Raleigh and Wilmington. A main line North Carolina Railroad Co. (operated by Norfolk Southern) railroad track is adjacent to the site with designated railroad rights of way entering the park. The industrial park is also only an hour’s drive from the Port of Morehead City, a break-bulk and bulk facility. The port is one of the deepest on the East Coast and only 4 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Tenants of the industrial park include BSH Home Appliances and Moen, as well as Aylward Enterprises, Carolina Technical Plastics, Chatsworth Products, Craven County Wood Energy, Duke Energy, Mutual Distributing, PetroLiance, Piedmont Natural Gas, Urethane Innovators and Wheatstone.
Craven County’s natural resources are abundant. The county is home to waterways, woodlands and a thriving agricultural community. The great outdoors in Craven County offers residents and visitors a variety of recreational pursuits.
Of the county’s 774 square miles, 66 square miles is water. The Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean are just minutes away. The Neuse and Trent rivers are a haven for fishermen and boating enthusiasts in the county. At 248 miles long, the Neuse River is the longest river in North Carolina. It stretches from the Falls Lake Reservoir Dam in the Piedmont to its 6-mile-wide mouth at Pamlico Sound, making it the widest river in America. The Neuse River converges with the Trent River in downtown New Bern.
The Croatan National Forest lies in the middle of the county. It is one of four national forests in the state and the only true coastal forest in the East. Its 160,000 acres of woodlands include 40 miles of streams, 4,300 acres of lakes, pine forests, saltwater estuaries, bogs and raised swamps called pocosins. The forest is bordered on three sides by tidal rivers and the Bogue Sound. Residents and visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, picnicking, canoeing, fishing, hunting and nature viewing at this national gem.
Beyond recreation, Craven County’s natural resources offer significant economic advantages as well. Agriculture is a significant contributor to the local economy. More than 60,000 acres of field crop production can provide annual farm sales of $40 million to $50 million. Livestock provides a similar economic yield. Crops include soybeans, corn, wheat, tobacco, peanuts, cotton and sorghum. Nearly all the grain produced is used within North Carolina as feed for poultry, cattle, swine and aquaculture enterprises. Other agricultural pursuits include one of the larger blueberry farms in the state, prawn production with a marketing cooperative, and private forestry and turf farm industries.
MCAS Cherry Point
MCAS Cherry Point plays a vital role in the economic stability of the area. It is the largest employer in the county. In fiscal year 2015, the base’s overall economic impact was $2.01 billion, according to the base’s 2015 Economic Impact Statement. More than $1.21 billion was paid in salaries to active-duty members, retired military members, current and retired civilians, and more than $72.5 million in contracts was awarded. In Craven County, the base has about 7,776 active military members, 3,341 retired military members, 2,803 active civilian members and 3,193 retired civilian members. More than 17,000 family members accompany these personnel.