Salisbury needs new gameplan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns Dr. Ada Fisher has submitted regarding economic challenges. Part 1 concerned Chicago.

When I retired from the V.A. Medical Center in Salisbury in 2000, I was asked how long I would stick around, as if this wasn’t my home. I still can’t answer the question without examining why I came here — with two sons in tow, trying to escape the undertow of gangs and violence creeping into my Chicago household, my belief in our veterans, etc.
Salisbury was and is a safe, fairly progressive community with an interesting mix of young professionals and business people trying to grapple with where the city is going.
Almost 18 years later, I see less growth than before and what is now a bedroom community resting on its laurels. Too few have a voice in a preponderance of decisions regarding our direction, other than those with a vested financial interest. With all due respect to our Economic Development Commission, it isn’t just about jobs. Our kids and scads of young people proclaim us boring, and our job markets are weak. Too often, the mantra is, “If we just had jobs, our fortunes will change.” I’m not so sure of that.
We need to eat some F.I.G.S. — Family friendly, Imagination, Growth and Security.
Staying at the Atlantic Beach Doubletree recently, I imagined downtown Salisbury featuring the Doubletree Empire Hotel. Why not invite a developer to help us — as the Rouse Company used to do — reimagine Salisbury in a new manner as a historic, family-friendly city surrounded in the county with destinations to come to rather than locations to escape? The Rouse Company created the planned city of Columbia, Md., as a thriving enclave of green spaces, safe enterprises and job enticing opportunities with good schools where generations have gone and many still return as a haven of good memories. Rouse also had a hand in Baltimore’s Harborplace market of unique stores and thematic venues which still draw crowds.
With a little something for everyone, inclusion of our higher educational institutions and celebration of unique industries, Salisbury could be Rowan County’s and North Carolina’s home away from home as a historic village in the midst of China Grove’s farmer’s collectives with each of our communities a part of a larger unique cooperative rather than being competing interests.
In 10 years, if we don’t do a lot of things differently, our land developers may still have land, but no one interested in preserving that which is uniquely Salisbury will be beating a path to a bedroom community where many are still asleep and the fruit of our loins has been plucked from our vines to be marketed elsewhere.
Wake up, Salisbury, and seize our future!
Dr. Ada Fisher of Salisbury is the N.C. Republican National Committeewoman. Contact her at