The North Carolina Legislature is back in town and ready to get to work for the year. During this "long session" lawmakers will likely take up a number of important topics including Medicaid and teacher pay. But what do you do if you represent a county that is oftentimes overlooked?
Representative Ken Goodman does just that. Goodman represents Scotland County which is in one of the poorest parts of the state.
Rep. Goodman says Scotland County is typical of southeastern North Carolina. First, he says the population of the county is not growing, and has even lost population over the last couple of years. There is also a loss in jobs.
"Scotland County has lost 34 percent of it's jobs since the year 2000. So that is very significant," says Goodman.
Property values have dipped and Goodman says it's just a tough situation economically. In addition, the county is rural and Goodman says much of the workforce is not highly educated. This, coupled with the fact that the county is not situated near a major highway, makes attracting infrastructure is difficult.
As a result Goodman says there are extreme challenges in trying to represent Scotland County at the General Assembly.
"We are not in a metropolitan area, we are not near a major airport, we are not where the population is going," notes Goodman. "We are not on the radar screen for companies that are waiting to come to North Carolina. Those are things, we have to deal with them but they are hard to overcome."
Still Goodman says that is not an excuse to forget about Scotland County.
"My argument is that North Carolina cannot leave the rural counties behind and be a great state."