Thoughts About Cultivating Change on the Currituck County Mainland
Most visitors to the Outer Banks follow a route that takes them down through Currituck County to the Wright Memorial Bridge. Once they cross the Currituck Sound and go on to Corolla, Duck or Nags Head, many don’t come back to the mainland until it’s time to go home.
Who can blame them? For decades, the drive down 168/158 wasn’t much more than a blur of farmland. But today, the scenery is changing. Currituck County is growing. And here’s an inside tip: It’s worth making some time for the mainland.
While the beach areas are still the biggest draw, the mainland has much more to offer than people realize. You can shop the fresh-from-the-fields farmers markets, browse our unique local stores, sample a pint from the oldest brewery in North Carolina and maybe even squeeze in a few rounds on the golf course. Of course, if you have kids in the car it will be hard to miss the H2OBX Waterpark.
When the waterpark opened last summer, it triggered a wave of new business interest in the area. It’s energized our efforts to develop the mainland corridor into its own distinct destination. There are some promising projects on the horizon that will help us transform the area from a “drive through” to a “go to” for Outer Banks beach-goers.
But as much as we grow, we’ll never completely pull up our rural roots. Agriculture (and agribusiness) contribute $50 million annually to our economy. Farmland and the rural life are important to the heritage, history and identity of Currituck County.
Our future depends on amazing sweet corn from Roberts Ridge Farm, wine grapes from Sanctuary Vineyards and crops from the dozens of generations-old family farms that contribute to our local economy. We can’t grow without our growers.
So how do we balance business and residential development in one of the fastest-growing NC counties with 35,000 acres of working farmland? One project at a time.
My official title is Economic Development Director, but I feel like I have a lot in common with farmers.
They cultivate plants and my focus is businesses, but we both work hard to help things grow. We both plant seeds and hope for the right climate and conditions. We both work hard and sometimes we wait a very long time to see results.
Sometimes the reward for our efforts is a pint of summer strawberries and sometimes it’s the opening of a new small business. Here in Currituck County, both are worth celebrating.