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Editorial: Christmas light display? Get further illumination

If local economic development officials had their wish, they’d probably prefer a stocking full of businesses relocating to Summit Corporate Center rather than a massive Christmas light display drawing visitors during the holiday season.
Still, the proposal floated at this week’s EDC meeting has some intriguing elements. As described by marketing firm owner Mike Miller, the Christmas light park could be operated at no cost to the county, with Midwest Display of Kansas City, Mo., setting up more than 100 light displays and paying Miller Davis for marketing services. The county would collect $1 for each $15 collected per car.
While the EDC and the Rowan County Tourism Development have endorsed the idea, county commissioners should exert some Grinch-like scrutiny before committing to this kind of project on publicly owned land. Can Midwest Display guarantee that the county and its taxpayers will incur no costs or liabilities for the display? Does it require any longterm contract that could pose a problem if future Summit Corporate businesses object to having a stream of holiday visitors on the property? What do local law-enforcement agencies say about traffic flow and potential disruption to busy streets such as Jake Alexander Boulevard and Julian Road?
Obviously, similar displays elsewhere have proven successful at drawing visitors. McAdenville’s annual Christmas display is nationally known, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Gaston County each year. But visitors can tour that display for free, it should be noted, and it took several years and national TV publicity, including a 1980 visit from Charles Kuralt, before the attraction really began to glow.
A Christmas display in Summit Corporate Center could be a bright way to bring more visitors to Rowan and increase the visibility of its lonely business park. But the county needs to check its list twice before signing off on the idea.

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