What we think: 2007 to be big across region

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

There’s no doubt Kannapolis will see tremendous changes this year as the N.C. Research Campus continues to take shape. Science and technology are our keys to the future, and it’s exciting to see opportunity springing up so tangibly in our midst.

As transforming as the campus will be, though, it’s important to note that it is not the only development revving up the economy in this area.

Completion of the NASCAR Hall of Fame may be a few years away; the opening is set for some time in 2010. But the NASCAR magic seems to be at work already. The Hall of Fame makes NASCAR and Charlotte synonymous, and this part of the Charlotte region could gain as much or more than any other.

Toyota recently revealed plans to build a 35,000-square-foot engineering and design facility in Rowan County to support its affiliated race teams, including NASCAR Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck Series competitors. The deal is nearly sealed; county commissioners have to hold a public hearing on incentives, but that should not be a problem. Toyota asked for no more than the county’s written policy lays out. If you’re more interested in engines than biotechnology, this could be good career news. It would definitely be a boost to the region.

North Carolina just became the country’s 10th most-populous state, and a lot of that growth is occurring in this region. New homes continue to pop up like mushrooms in Cabarrus and Rowan counties. This challenges local services, but it certainly keeps the construction industry going.

And so the region continues to grow with forces like biotechnology and NASCAR driving the economy. The two might not seem compatible, but both rely heavily on science and skill. Some people call this the Information Age. But it’s looking more like the Science Era.