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Darts and laurels

Laurels to rays of hope that the recession’s end may be near. Rowan’s most recent unemployment figures showed at least a respite from what felt like a free fall. Instead of continuing upward, the jobless rate dropped from 12.8 percent in March to 12.5 percent in April. Then there’s PGT Industries, whose job fair today will probably draw a crowd as the company tries to fill 30 new positions. PGT’s plan on Heilig Road used to belong to GDX, whose closing in 2006 was another blow to a reeling economy. PGT, maker of hurricane-resistant doors and windows, bought the plant several months later and moved its Lexington operations and 380 employees here. At the time, state officials said PGT could add as many as 700 jobs over five years. That’s a nice number, 700. But for now 30 sounds good. – – –
Dart to what looks like lax management and oversight of the local ABC operation in recent years and maybe longer. The pieces of the puzzle have not all come together yet, and board members say they straightened some problems out on their own after an internal review. But the way the state ABC system is set up has to take part of the blame for the way this situation has developed. Here’s an operation in Rowan-Kannapolis bringing in $8 million in revenue a year that’s overseen by a volunteer board and one general manager ó and they don’t seem to answer to anyone. An evaluation by the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division concluded last year that the state ABC system is outdated. The report recommended the legislature define the mission of local boards and empower the state ABC Commission to more closely oversee local operations. That clearly needs to happen.
– – –
Laurels to the city of Kannapolis for receiving ó and earning ó the 2009 Excellence in Economic Development Award for Excellence in Economic Diversification Strategies from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The award recognizes the city’s commitment to research-based, market-driven economic development in helping grow the local economy. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who announced the award last week, said the city represents the best and brightest in 21st century economic development. This is high praise for a town that six years ago nervously watched the gigantic Pillowtex plant falter and close. David Murdock and the N.C. Research Campus came to the city’s rescue, but the city has learned what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. The award should remind everyone how important diversification is to the city’s longterm health.

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