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Elizabeth Cook: Shoptalk on progress, spring and news

How would you describe the spirit of Rowan County?

“Progress” is one of the words that came to mind at the Post as we planned our annual Spirit of Rowan section.

The section will be in your Salisbury Post next Sunday, and we hope you’ll hold on to it for a whole year. While last year’s section looked at products and services that originate in Rowan County, this year we put together an economic overview, touching on everything from the airport to tourism and a lot of stuff in between.

The rebound in the national economy has finally reached Rowan. According to Sperling’s Best Places, Rowan has experienced job growth of 3.52 percent, compared to 1.59 percent nationally. (Sperling’s figures were last updated in December 2016; job growth in Rowan has speeded up since then.)

Sperling’s Best Places projects 41.24 percent job growth in Rowan over the next 10 years, compared to 37.98 percent job growth nationally over the same period. Those are astounding figures.

This year’s Spirit of Rowan touches on job training, health, economic development projects, Mid-Carolina Airport, High Rock Lake and more.

Making sure all areas and segments of our county share in the rising prosperity is a challenge, so we checked in with the county’s 10 municipalities to see what they have going on.

Investment in the county from EDC projects last year was $45 million, and county officials are working to exceed that number this year.

They’re putting particular emphasis on recruiting companies that fit the “advanced manufacturing” profile. Rod Crider, head of the Rowan EDC, says those companies provide what he calls “primary jobs.”

“They are jobs that create everything else,” Crider told reporter Jessica Coates, “so the manufacturing jobs are really the base of any economy. And if the commercial and the service industries and everything else and retail are going to grow, it has to come from having that manufacturing base.”

Look for more on that next Sunday.

You’ll find our annual Spring Home Improvement section in next Sunday’s paper, too — another bonus. The section will be in tabloid format for the first time in a while, which should make it handy.

Look for home decorating ideas, improvement projects and tips for getting your lawn and garden off to a good start this spring.

We’re coming upon the time when people pour into garden centers on Saturday mornings, eager to add some color and order to the landscape. Some of us are like hungry people at a buffet, loading our wagons with more plants than may be wise. Is there such a thing as over-planting?

The Leadership Rowan class visited the Salisbury Post on Thursday for tours and a panel discussion about the media.

One of the first issues to come up was the flood of information on the internet and the importance of choosing credible sources of news. How do you distinguish between information and deliberate disinformation? How do you convince people not to believe everything they see online?

For young people, specialized training would certainly help. There are organizations to help with this, such as The News Literacy Project. The need is clear.

“News today comes from many directions — often in packaging that is confusing, if not downright contradictory,” The Literacy Project says. “Even the most sophisticated audiences find it increasingly difficult to distinguish between legitimate news — information gathered in a dispassionate search for truth — and materials that are created to persuade, sell, mislead or exploit.”

Now there’s a international aspect to consider. When people pop up with extreme views, you have to wonder if Russian trolls sowed the first seeds of discord or nudged someone closer to the edge.

Russia hasn’t cornered the market on trolls, of course. We have some right here in Rowan County.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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