Hometown hero innovates to revive rural NC town

On any given summer day in southern Moore County, North Carolina, you’ll find some of the world’s best athletes teeing it up at Pinehurst Resort. With picturesque courses nestled into a charming historic village, it’s easy to see why Pinehurst has become a vibrant tourist town that’s heralded as the golf capital of the world.

But as those who venture a few miles away discover, there’s a dividing line between northern and southern Moore County.

The town of Robbins is less than 30 minutes north of Pinehurst. They both share the same Carolina blue sky – but outside of that, the two communities don’t have much in common.

In its heyday, Robbins was a thriving manufacturing community known for producing textiles and furniture. But as the manufacturing industry evolved, the town’s infrastructure presented numerous obstacles for companies. The town has no natural gas, no rail transportation and isn’t located in close proximity to an interstate – all liabilities for modern manufacturing.

One by one, businesses shut down their operations and the town disintegrated into an economically distressed community with high levels of poverty and unemployment. The economic outlook for Robbins was pretty bleak – until Steven Bean, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, stepped in.

A foundation for success

Bean is a Tar Heel born and bred. Though he grew up on a farm in a small North Carolina town, he had big dreams – like going to UNC. He turned his tassel in 1985, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year college.

“UNC Kenan-Flagler gave me a lot of the foundation for where I’ve taken my career,” he said.

To keep reading, see: http://unc.live/2bvGIi3

By Laura Baverman
Published August 29, 2016.