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Ready to grow again?

Early voting starts April 24. Do you know which candidates will get your vote?
As you study the candidates and their records ahead of the May 6 primary, keep in mind Rowan County’s real need to grow. The economic engine that was driving local businesses and our tax base forward at the end of the 20th century sputtered and stalled in recent years. It’s time to get that engine going again.
The population growth map on the front of today’s Insight section tells part of the story. We spotted the map on the UNCC Urban Institute’s website and officials there agreed to share it. The fact that Rowan was the doughnut hole in a circle of growth — comparing Census numbers for 2010 and 2014 — is worrisome. On the bright side, year-to-year figures in that timespan suggest, at least to a non-expert, that Rowan’s population losses may have bottomed out in 2012, because between that year and 2013, our population grew. But to keep forward momentum, the county needs positive leaders who believe county commissioners can be part of the solution.
It’s not clear all the candidates get that. Some have been heard to say they don’t believe government has a role in helping to attract or create jobs. But those same people tout improvements at the county airport as investments in economic development.
The variations up and down in Rowan’s population are small; it may be more accurate to describe our numbers as flat. By comparison, some counties in the state have seen dramatic decreases. So it could be worse — but that’s exactly what many here fear. The world around us is growing faster. Rowan clearly needs more jobs that pay well to restore the prosperity residents once enjoyed. Right now the people seeking those jobs are going somewhere else. What’s our strategy to turn that around?
If you want to hear what candidates for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and the state House have to say on that and other issues, be sure to attend the candidate forum coming up April 15 at Catawba College’s Tom Smith Auditorium. Sponsored by the college, the Chamber of Commerce and the Salisbury Post, it starts at 6 p.m. and will feature candidates for both offices.
You can suggest questions for the candidates by emailing editor@salisburypost.com or calling Editor Elizabeth Cook at 704-797-4244. Moderator Dr. Michael Bitzer will use some of them during the forum.
Whatever you do, be sure to register to vote by the April 11 deadline — and to actually cast a ballot in the primary. Vote as if your financial health depended on it, because it may very well.

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