Sampson County December 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Our visit to Sampson County was hosted by Sampson Community College (SCC). We were joined by local agricultural leaders, representatives from ag-industries such as nearby company Hog Slat, local philanthropic leaders, elected officials and representatives from SCC.

“We have 967 square miles of some of the best people and some of the best farmland,” declared SCC president Bill Starling during his welcoming remarks.

The assembled leaders walked us through the evolution of the agricultural industry in Sampson County, from low-tech to high-tech. They noted the ag-outputs had shifted from primarily tobacco to hogs, turkey and sweet potatoes.

The county’s population has also increasingly diversified in recent history, with the Hispanic population increasing by more than a third from the 2010 census to 2020 — a fact that also shifted enrollment at SCC to become an institution serving a growing number of Hispanic students. SCC became the first community college in North Carolina to receive a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation.

Brandon Warren from Warren Family Farms told us, “Our diversity is our strength — as a company, a county and a region. The world is advancing, and so are we.”

The top issues lifted up by attendees included access to quality health care, limited new housing construction, access to transportation — particularly as it relates to accessing health care and educational opportunities — and an aging workforce for many of the key jobs in the county.

Mental health was spotlighted as a foundational issue, with leaders stating one of the key obstacles was limited local providers. One bright spot was the use of telehealth in a number of areas including in nearby Clinton City Schools.

Other issues highlighted as likely to impact the future of the county included climate change and the potential impacts on the agricultural sector — and the rise of automation and the corresponding impact on workforce.

The assembled leaders were optimistic about the opportunities for the county moving forward.

“The rural east has to determine its own future,” commented Starling. “The rural east has to take care of itself. An economically and socially viable Eastern North Carolina is a must. And a vibrant, healthy Sampson County is a key part of that future.”

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

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U39702, 2/23