12 cumberland hoke harnett map 2Fayetteville’s Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area has been expanded for the first time in modern memory. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget recently announced that the Fayetteville metropolitan statistical area has been augmented to include Harnett County. The MSA was originally comprised of Cumberland and Hoke counties. This change has increased the total Fayetteville MSA population to 526,719, up by nearly 30 percent. According to the U.S. Census, Fayetteville is now ranked as the 108th largest MSA in the U.S.

“Cumberland County plays a central role in southeast North Carolina. It is home to three major universities and a community college, as well as home to Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world and home to the Woodpeckers, a Houston Astros affiliated Class A Advanced baseball team,” said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. “We also have a solid workforce ... with much to offer those businesses that might choose to come to this region. As the sixth-largest city in the state, there is a deep connection between Fayetteville and the neighboring counties through commerce, employment, health care and leisure activities.”

Large companies often consider MSA size and workforce numbers in the search for new locations. These factors are key in the early stages of site selection, and for Fayetteville, this change reinforces the community as a commerce center. Located on the I-95 corridor, this new data illustrates that Cumberland County is drawing workers from up to an hour away. “Fayetteville’s MSA expansion will increase competitiveness for economic development projects and enhance the marketing and promotion of the region,” said Andrew Pennink, chairman of Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation.

The city and county regularly compete against larger MSAs when recruiting businesses that are looking to expand or relocate. This change will more accurately reflect the community’s size and increase its chances of success. An MSA is a geographical zone with an urban center of 50,000 residents or more that has close economic ties throughout the adjacent counties. The OMB determines MSA size and mandates that each member county show 25 percent more of economic integration with the urban center.

Increasing an MSA size can position a community to receive additional federal funding, increase the amount of economic information developed by private and nonprofit statistical agencies and raise the visibility for national or multistate site selection searches. “We believe Cumberland County draws in more people than shown, and we are proactively participating in the protocol development for the next recalculation,” said Marshall Faircloth, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

The United States Office of Management and Budget delineates metropolitan statistical areas according to published standards that are applied to census bureau data. The general concept of a metropolitan statistical area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. Current metropolitan statistical area delineations were announced by OMB effective March 2020.

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