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Regional effort trying to move Brunswick County back into Wilmington metro area

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — We all know Brunswick County is part of southeastern North Carolina, but the federal government sees the map differently.

A new designation means the Census Bureau will factor Brunswick County’s population, income and demographics into the Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area. Local leaders say they’re surprised the government decided to shift Brunswick County’s statistics south of the border.

“It was a shock to understand how the Census Bureau and Office of Management (and Budget) could move Brunswick County from Wilmington to Myrtle Beach,” Brunswick County Economic Development Director Jim Bradshaw said.

The move, which took effect in February, cost the Wilmington metro area 100,000 residents. Local leaders say the shift in population makes the Myrtle Beach area more appealing for business recruitment over Wilmington.

“There are companies that look look at size of your region where they choose to put a location in the region, so that certainly has an impact,” said Connie Majure-Rhett of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

Regardless, leaders say they will continue to market Brunswick County as the Wilmington area.

“Our major industrial corridor is located from Leland down to the Columbus County line, and this is just a few miles from the Wilmington Airport and port,” Bradshaw said.

The county’s population growth seems to match that. Bradshaw says most of the growth in Brunswick County has been north of Shallotte, where he says residents identify with Wilmington not Myrtle Beach.

“The vast majority of Brunswick County work in Brunswick County or in the Wilmington region,” Bradshaw said. “Just a very small minority actually work in the Myrtle Beach area.”

Bradshaw says it’s a regional effort to get the county back into Wilmington’s MSA. Rep. Mike McIntyre said he plans to lobby the Census Bureau to reverse the move.

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