Editorial: Put out the welcome mat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 28, 2009

This is an ideal time to boast about Rowan and Cabarrus counties to family and friends. Invite them here over the holidays to visit local attractions and share the season. And take them shopping. In addition to quality family time, you could reap tourism dollars for the community, sales tax revenue for local government and much-needed business for local stores and restaurants.
Make this a hometown Christmas in the area’s genuine small-town atmosphere.
According to the state, domestic visitors to and within North Carolina spent a record $16.9 billion in 2008, an increase of 2.1 percent from 2007. Rowan’s share of that was $116 million (down 1.7 percent from 2007). Cabarrus received more than $288 million, a 4.9 percent increase. (That’s what Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Concord Mills can do for you.)
This is not a competition. It’s more about self-preservation. Cabarrus has high-profile attractions to draw visitors. Rowan is rich in tourism-friendly treasures, too; they’re just not as well-known outside the county. There’s Lazy 5 Ranch, the N.C. Transportation Museum, the Old Stone House, Rowan Museum, the Hall House and more. Nearly every town has a museum of some kind. Preservation and history are a big part of the local culture.
As you’re shopping for Christmas, do that shopping in your home county. Sales tax paid on those purchases helps fund local government, and you have a lot more to gain from that than paying sales tax in Mecklenburg or Forsyth counties. In Rowan, for example, the 2010 county budget includes $69.6 million in property tax revenue and $14.8 million in sales tax revenue. Higher sales tax revenue could relieve pressure on the property tax rate as the county stretches its dollars to fund schools, law enforcement and other vital services.
Spending locally also helps provide jobs and supports local businesses.
So shop in your home county and invite visitors to do the same as they take in holiday events. Next weekend alone offers The Arc Festival of Trees, the Spencer Christmas in the Park and Tree-lighting Ceremony, Hall House Victorian Christmas, the Symphony Guild’s Christmas in the City home tour, the Celebration of Angels at Gateway Park, the Kannapolis Christmas Parade, the Rail Walk Christmas Show, and the the Historical Society of South Rowan Christmas Tour of Homes. There’s more, and every weekend is packed.
It’s too much to keep to ourselves. Invite others to enjoy a hometown Christmas here. They won’t be disappointed.