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Dari Caldwell: County leadership has good eye for the future

Dari Caldwell

Dari Caldwell

Dari Caldwell

  • By Dari Caldwell

    Special to the Salisbury Post

    As we move into 2015, there is a lot of conversation about the vision for Rowan County.

    As we know, a vision describes a desired future state and can often be thought of as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you are the best, you have a better chance of becoming the best.

    I have lived my life in a sports family. My husband David was an outstanding baseball player, known as a power hitter. He played for Clemson University and was an All-American who played twice in the College World Series. He still holds the record for most doubles in the game in the College World Series. I once asked him how it was he could hit so well, and he told me you have to “see yourself hitting the ball”

    That really stuck with me and is applicable now to us.

    We had a very productive Chamber of Commerce board retreat a few months ago and discussed priorities for 2015

    Education – Our board feels that a strong educational system will help us retain and recruit businesses and key employees. We are very supportive of Dr. Lynn Moody’s new strategic plan that focuses on literacy with the goal of creating over 100 “hot spot” reading centers.

    Business advocacy – Our board is very excited about the new Rowan County leadership. The business community and elected officials are working together on a strategy for economic growth and a positive Rowan County brand.

    I have had a number of folks give me suggestions to pass along for a new brand — some reasonable, some interesting, such as “Rowan County, a mall for all.”

    I will stop there, and with all seriousness, address some real possibilities:

    When Sharon Decker, then secretary of commerce for North Carolina, spoke at a Power in Partnership breakfast last fall, she outlined the five areas of excellence in a community that are needed to attract employers and boost the economy. Each of these could be our brand.

    In the area of HEALTH, we could be “Rowan County — a healthy workforce.” We have an excellent health system in our county with a focus on prevention and wellness, including the work being done with business and industry from the N.C. Prevention Partners, and Novant Health.

    In the area of EDUCATION, we could be “Rowan County — home of higher education.” We are a college town and should embrace that. We have Catawba College, Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary and one of the best community colleges in the nation in Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. We will be adding medical students to that complement this year at the arrival of students from Campbell University School of Medicine to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

    In the area of ARTS, we could be, “Rowan County — where arts matter!” It is rare to find a county or city of our size that can boast the number of theatres and theatre companies, a symphony, an art walk and the number of artists and galleries that bless us.

    With respect to the ENVIRONMENT, we could be “Rowan County – the environmentally friendly county.” We have the Center for the Environment, philanthropists who care about the environment and support those efforts, the Yadkin River, High Rock Lake and many other beautiful natural resources.

    But for the Chamber, we would like to embrace ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, and suggest, “Rowan County — we make doing business easy.” Our vision is to become known to employers as the place to come and to establish companies and jobs, which will be the future of Rowan County. And we want to also be a place where businesses thrive.

    Regardless of the brand that is selected for Rowan County, I will paraphrase a wise man (Paul Fisher) and say boldly, “Our time is now!”

    This is a time for positive change in Rowan County and a time of moving our county forward and creating the future we want to be.

    It is time to see ourselves hitting the ball.

    Dari Caldwell, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, gave these remarks when she took office Thursday night as chair of the board for the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. 

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