WHY Clayton

Our Community

A combination of unique amenities are at every corner in Clayton. The Town of Clayton has a vibrant business community, a plethora of Arts and Music opportunities, a year-round lineup of community events for all audiences, miles of greenways, trails, and safe parks in every part of town, a robust community library and parks and recreation center, plus a lively Downtown District with shops, restaurants, bars and more at the heart of it all. Whether you are a long-term resident or newcomer, you’re sure to find so many things to love right here in Clayton. Above all, the thing that makes Clayton so special is it’s people and strong community spirit shared by all.


K through 12 Education

Johnston County Public Schools serves more than 37,000 students throughout Johnston County. The district has seen tremendous growth recently - more than doubling in size in the past 15 years. Graduation rates have climbed by more than 13% in the past 4 years.

  • 4-year graduation rate: 93.4%
  • Teachers: more than 2,500
  • Nationally board-certified teachers: 259
  • Elementary schools: 23
  • Middle schools: 12
  • High Schools: 10

Johnston Community College

A member of the North Carolina Community College System, Johnston Community College (JCC) serves more than 13,000 students annually in its credit and non-credit programs.

JCC's 175-acre main campus is located in Smithfield, NC, just 15 miles southeast of Clayton near the junction of I-95 and U.S. 70. In addition to its main campus, JCC has classrooms and training facilities throughout the county, including the Cleveland Center, the Johnston County Workforce Development Center in Clayton, and the Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center.

JCC employs approximately 600 people and has an annual budget of about $40 million. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Area Colleges and Universities

As part of North Carolina's Research Triangle Region, Clayton is just a short drive to some of the nation's most well-regarded research and education institutions.

Research Universities near Clayton:

NC State University (18 Miles):Universities Near the Triangle

  • Enrollment: 36,700
  • Degrees conferred annually: 10,500 (as of 2020 to 2021)
  • Research and development expenditures: $541 million

Duke University (44 Miles):

  • Enrollment: 16,780
  • Degrees conferred annually: 6,300 (as of 2021)
  • Research and development  expenditures: $1.22 billion

University of North Carolina (UNC) - Chapel Hill (47 Miles)

  • Enrollment: 31,538
  • Degrees conferred annually: 9,660 (as of 2019)
  • Research and development expenditures: $1.15 billion

(Sources include ncsu.edu, facts.duke.edu, and unc.edu.)


Johnston Health Clayton, located on HWY 42 West, is the full-service hospital serving Clayton and the fast-growing communities of northern and western Johnston County. Johnston Health Clayton opened in October 2009 with a 24/7 emergency department and outpatient services of the hospital’s core departments: lab, imaging and surgery. With the opening of a new three-story wing in January 2015, Johnston Health now offers inpatient care for the sick and injured, and expanded services such as labor and delivery.

Johnston Health Clayton currently offers these services: Birthing Center, Cardiology, Endoscopy, Hematology, Imaging, Lab services, Medical oncology, Nuclear Medicine, Primary/family care, Radiation oncology, Rheumatology, Surgery, and 24-hour emergency department.

The new wing is designed for comfort. All patient rooms are private and have flat screen TVs, large windows to the outdoors and en suite bathrooms designed with safety in mind. For the comfort, too, of overnight guests, the rooms also have either a pull-down bed or a futon. There’s room service, too. Patients can select and order their entrees from a menu. All of the meals are in keeping with diets prescribed by physicians.

Visitors are welcome to dine in the café, which features a pizza oven, a fresh soup and salad bar, a grill and deli station. There’s also a pharmacy, a chapel for meditation and an outdoor garden for quiet reflection.

Johnston Health's experienced and highly trained doctors and nurses will build upon the hospital’s established reputation for service and quality care.


Interstates and HighwaysA map showing Clayton's location in relation to Raleigh and a number of highways

Clayton's main connections to the region (and the rest of North America) are U.S. Highway 70 Business, the U.S. Highway 70 Bypass (future Interstate 42) and NC 42. These roads quickly lead to several other major interstates, including I-40 and I-95.

The planned completion of NC 540 (an interstate quality toll road) will further enhance Clayton's connectivity to the region - offering direct freeway access to RDU International and the major corporate campuses found in the world-renowned Research Triangle Park.


The region's main commercial airport is Raleigh-Durham International (RDU). RDU, which is one of the largest non-hub airports in the U.S., is approximately 40 minutes from downtown Clayton by car.

RDU International Highlights

  • 10 major airlines
  • More than 600 daily arrivals and departures
  • More than 55 non-stop destinations (2 of which are international)
  • 7 international destinations
  • 2 Terminals and 41 gates in use
  • 2 Fixed base operators (FBOs) and major cargo capabilities

Johnston Regional Airport

Executive and corporate travelers may prefer the simpler, yet high-quality experience of flying out of Johnston Regional Airport (JNX), only 10 miles from Clayton. JNX features a 5500-foot by 100-foot runway and newly constructed terminal building. It is home to several corporate aircrafts, Duke Life Flight, several aviation-related businesses and recreational aviators.


A Norfolk Southern (Class 1 freight operator) rail line runs through Clayton, connecting the town to the Port of Morehead City to the east. Traveling west will lead to connections with another class one freight operator - CSX rail lines. 

Studies are currently in the works exploring feasibility and logistics of extending GoTriangle Bus Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail into Clayton.