North Carolina should stop state economic development dollars from flowing to communities in need.
That’s the curious conclusion of Cindy Elmore’s piece about Enviva’s facility in Northampton County (column, “The Amazon rain forest is burning; so are forests in North Carolina,” Sept. 29), which produces renewable wood pellets that are supported by the United Nations as a low-carbon alternative to coal.
Elmore tries to make the case against wood biomass, but actually lays out the very reasons why we should embrace it. Elmore correctly points out that Enviva’s facility is located in an area in need — 64% of the town’s children are economically disadvantaged, and the facility provides hundreds of jobs, school scholarships and apprenticeships.
But Elmore concludes that the state economic development dollars should stop supporting these jobs. This makes little sense. Communities with economic development challenges need more state support, not less, and the forest products industry is a proven partner in growing jobs.
Thanks to Enviva, more than $100 million has been invested into Northampton County, and the poverty rate there has plunged 15% since the plant opened. The forest products industry employs more than 70,000 workers in North Carolina, paying nearly $1 billion in taxes.
If Elmore wants to grow jobs, she should support the forest products industry, not denigrate it.
The writer is vice president for communication for the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association.