Dare County looks to diversify tourism-heavy economy 

Posted at 11:04 AM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 17:17:19-05

Dare County, N.C. (WTKR)- Dare County is exploring ways to diversify its tourism-heavy economy.

Last month the Dare County Board of Commissioners entered into an agreement with North Carolina State University's Office of Outreach and Engagement for the 2020 Economy Diversification Strategic Plan.

The proposal calls for "not just another "cookie cutter" plan."

Instead the one-year contract calls for identifying Dare County's economic development assets and finding ways to help the county "chart new directions for its economy."

Dare County struggles with seasonal unemployment that swings from 4% during the peak summer months to 15% during the off season.

An Economic Development & Sustainability White Paper from the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce says that "economic growth is not a choice, but a necessity."

It also calls for embracing the assets of the region, "not the least of which is water."

"Tourism is king here. You can't deny that. The industry is huge and we need it and we are so thankful for that and we want to continue to support that. We are not looking to pull the plug on tourism here. You know we just want to complement it," CEO Karen Brown told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Thursday.

A proposal for the plan also points to rises in living costs affecting year-round residents and that young people are not making their careers in the county in "desired numbers."