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EDC hires Catawba graduate as new marketing specialist

SALISBURY — Ready, set, recruit.
RowanWorks Economic Development Commission has hired a marketing specialist who will work to recruit new retailers and other types of businesses to Salisbury and Rowan County.
Laura Jollay will start in the newly created position Dec. 10.
Jollay has worked as the marketing and communications coordinator for Global Contact Services in Salisbury for four and a half years.
She earned a masters degree in communications and leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and received a bachelor’s degree from Catawba College in communication arts. 
“It’s great that we have someone in this position who loves this area,” said Robert Van Geons, executive director for the EDC.
Jollay initially will follow up on existing leads gained as the EDC has increased its activity in retail circles. She also will meet elected officials throughout the county who help fund the EDC with contributions from local governments.
Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson made a big push for a retail recruiter when he took office last year, challenging the EDC, Downtown Salisbury Inc. and Rowan Chamber of Commerce to attract more shops and restaurants to Salisbury.
Van Geons said while Jollay will work to bring retailers to the area, she has a broader charge to market the county to prospective employers of all kinds, including service and hospitality.
Woodson said increasing sales tax revenue is crucial, especially since the city can no longer involuntarily annex neighborhoods to increase the property tax base. Salisbury’s property tax revenue has stayed about the same for three years.
“We are trying to just let some of the big boxes and even small boxes know about Salisbury, that we are open for business and we want them,” Woodson said.
Woodson said he hopes Jollay can lure job creators like a medical office, laboratory, clothing shop and perhaps the retail giant many people have been wishing for — Target.
A new restaurant like Golden Corral, which was planned to go next to the new Courtyard Marriott but now is interested in Bendix Drive, could employ 50 people, Woodson said.
Jollay will earn $32,500 a year, funded through the EDC’s budget, Van Geons said. She was out of town Wednesday and did not return a call from the Post.
While the Tourism Development Authority is helping to pay for EDC marketing initiatives, that money is not going toward the new position, Van Geons said.
To help pay for the fourth full-time employee, RowanWorks asked all funding partners — the county and 10 municipalities — to restore some of the voluntary 10 percent budget cut the EDC took last year.
Salisbury increased its contribution to the EDC by about $6,000, Van Geons said.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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