Bob Shiles Staff writer
October 24, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The two U.S. House representatives who represent Robeson County have blasted an Internet article that hung the label of America’s “poorest city” around the neck of Lumberton.
Reps. Richard Hudson, a Republican, and Mike McIntyre, a Democrat who was born in Lumberton, have written a letter to Michael Schreiber, editor-in-chief of Credit.com, charging that the article inaccurately categorizes the city. According to the letter, Credit.com’s article skews Lumberton’s economic standing by using inaccurate population and median income data.
According to the Sept. 24 article, “The Poorest Areas in America” statistics are based on U.S. Census figures found in the annual American Community Survey. The article reported that Lumberton has a population of 135,517 and a median income of $28,293. The article used the population for all of Robeson County.
“Lumberton’s economic, social, historical and cultural strides and values have been honored on the national and state levels. Twice Lumberton has been chosen as an All-America City because of its clear vision on promoting the positive attributes of diversity,” McIntyre said in a statement. “Lumberton has been named a ‘Main Street City’ on the state level and its Downtown Historic District has been recognized on the national level. Its schools have produced leaders recognized on the national and state levels in areas such as business, banking, literature, athletics, government, education, religion, health care and the arts.
“With its strong sense of purpose, a community filled with people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work, and its partnership of elected officials, community leaders, businesses, and economic development team, Lumberton will continue to march forward and meet the challenges of the day,” he said. “However, Lumberton should not have one hand tied behind its back with this inaccurate report, and we urge an immediate correction in this economic indicator.”
Hudson, a Concord resident, was just as strong in his defense of the city.
“Lumberton is a great place to live with top educational institutions and health care facilities, natural resources, and a diverse and valued history,” he said in a statement. “Credit.com’s article unfairly projects an image of Lumberton that is not consistent with the great strides the city has made in its economic standing in the state. I stand with my colleague (McIntyre), in strongly opposing such a misleading allegation that could have a negative impact on the economy of both Lumberton and Robeson County.”
The letter was apparently prompted by information provided by Mickey Gregory, the executive director of the Lumberton Visitors Bureau. She sent a letter to Hudson about what she called a “devastating article (that) has been reported on major TV and radio stations, real estate websites and has gone viral throughout the north and Southeast.”
Gregory was pleased with the response.
“It is very uplifting to know that both of these individuals have responded quickly and firmly to our request,” she said in an email to The Robesonian. “I hope you will publish both their responses and share on Facebook and every social media resource to let everyone know what a rich, progressive community we have.”
Readers of the article were also critical, with three pointing out in the comments section the population and median income listed for Lumberton are incorrect.
The Robesonian in an Our View that was published on Oct. 13 also mocked the article. It can be found at http://www.robesonian.com/news/editorials-opinion/2647104/Dumb-and-dumber.