Backers of maintaining NC 12 along the Outer Banks have a new study to bolster their case. NC 12 has seen its share of damage as storms shift the sand. And the price tag to fix the problem could cost millions, if not billions.
Lee Nettles is the Executive Director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. He says the public and the legislature need to know the economic value of Hatteras Island.
“There was a lot of discussion, obviously, about NC 12 and it was just our perspective that people were focusing almost exclusively on the cost of repairs to the road rather than considering the value and economic return of what Hatteras Island provides both to Dare County and the state," Nettles said.
Hatteras Island is made up of seven unincorporated villages: Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras Village.
The Hatteras Island Economic Impact Assessment shows the seven villages that make up the Island generated $204 million in 2011, with most of the business coming from out-of-state. Nettles says that equates to almost $20 million in state and local taxes in 2011.
"Beyond just the dollars that are contributed tax-wise, I think Hatteras Island is very important to the state and to the country even, in terms of its brand value," Nettles said. "The Hatteras Light House is just an icon of this state."
Nettles says since most of the Island's business are from outside the state, the tax dollars are "new" and generate "true economic impact."