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Greene column: Local economy has bright spots

Does Rowan County have a future? The Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission believes so.
Since joining the EDC in 2008, Executive Director Robert Van Geons has kept a high profile with the local business and industrial community to ensure that Salisbury-Rowan stays on top of the list for expansion and growth.
Improvements to the Salisbury-Rowan EDC website provide immediate access to nearly every question a potential client might ask. E-mail or telephone inquiries are answered immediately, with additional follow-up to ensure good customer service. No stone is left unturned. This energetic young man demonstrates creativity, enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and professionalism to guide our community forward.
There are positives taking place right now.
– The Freightliner/Daimler Truck project will maintain 695 jobs with a potential increase of 150 to 413 more local jobs.
– Henkel (formerly National Starch) chose Salisbury to expand and will ADD 103 jobs.
– Magnum Composites will retain 198 existing jobs, 60 temporary jobs, and forecasts 162 NEW jobs.
– Sustainable Textile Group opened in China Grove with 223 NEW jobs (many of which were filled by the Hanesbrand workers who lost employment at the same physical facility).
– Another bright light is PGT Industries, which has added 165 jobs to its workforce, bringing their total to 475 employees.
Even though each of these is not a “drop in the bucket” to the jobs lost, they provide a positive note for the future, and these are outcomes that are envied in many communities across our state and nation.
It is important to remember that all of this activity did not happen overnight. Before jobs can be created, there are countless questions that need answering. Each project usually requires an economic impact analysis which is prepared by Robert Van Geons and his staff. This study represents many, many hours of research about our community and surrounding areas. This type of study is not an easy task.
Even though incentives are not the most important issue, incentives are important to companies needing or wanting to expand, and expansion means jobs for our local citizens. These impact studies are beneficial to the whole recruiting process, as they not only give details regarding incentives to the industry represented in the study; the impact analysis also provides information regarding the number of jobs, wages, potential tax revenue to local govern-ment(s), and the impact of job creation on our schools, support services, and tax base.
Another bright spot in our local EDC reports is the number of inquiries that the EDC has received over the past two months. Maybe companies are realizing the value of our central location, our ability to train employees, or how many people live within a 50-mile radius of Salisbury and Rowan County.
Whatever the reason for that interest, Robert does an excellent job making sure that every company is educated on the value of our proximity to key transportation corridors, the types of affordable building and land available, and more importantly, the quality of life that is unique to our community, with our recreation facilities, cultural arts and access to quality education and training.
The Salisbury Economic Development Commission recently adopted a new name, “RowanWORKS.” The board and the staff under the leadership of Robert VanGeons are working for Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina. We hope that you will support our efforts to bring jobs and economic recovery to our community.
– – –
Dianne Greene is chairman of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission.

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