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Mayor Pro Tem Post organizes economic development summit

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s economic development strategy is different from that of Salisbury, says Mayor Pro Tem David Post.

The Rowan County Economic Development Commission is recruiting manufacturers for the open spaces outside municipal limits, and developers of manufacturing plants may need 100 to a few hundred acres, Post said.

“We just don’t have the land or ability to do that inside of the city,” he said.

Unless Salisbury expands its borders, it must fill in or redevelop land inside the city limits.

To drum up ideas about economic development for the city, Post has organized an economic summit on March 15 with the help of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission; Pete Teague, who has served as president of both the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission; and Livingstone College, which will host the meeting.

“I think there is a real hunger to see how we can help Salisbury grow,” Post said during the Salisbury City Council’s retreat last week.

The summit won’t be a political function or city government meeting nor will it be open to the public. But Post says he’s invited about 150 people of varying backgrounds, largely drawn from the business community and the city and county’s economic development board.

During last week’s retreat, Mayor Al Heggins asked about the makeup of the invitation list. Post said he was willing to consider inviting others.

The purpose of the summit, he said, is to bring a group of people into a room to think, share and gather ideas.

“I’m not the first person to suggest that we don’t have all the ideas. So I thought maybe we should have an economic summit and gather ideas from the community,” Post said.

In the invitation to the summit, Post says the City Council lacks a specific platform for exploring ideas for economic growth and development.

“Instead, we are often responders to opportunities that come to us either for approval or support,” he said.

Post says Salisbury has “terrific assets” and a message to sell, especially with an economy that’s rebounded from the 2008-09 recession and Interstate 85 construction nearing completion. Post cites the city’s fiber optic system, Hotwire, formerly known as Fibrant; the city’s downtown; and proximity to Charlotte as some of the most significant assets.

If Salisbury isn’t proactive about pursuing economic development, Salisbury will “get skipped” as soon as I-85’s widening wraps up and all lanes are open for traffic, Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield said during last week’s retreat.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.

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