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Rowan EDC will complement public funding with private money through new campaign

SALISBURY — New capital investment by private companies and job growth have long been the mission of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission, but it has usually relied on public funding for that goal.

An ongoing project from the agency called Forward Rowan aims compliment public funding with contributions from the private sector

The Rowan EDC aims to raise $1.75 million from private companies over a five year period. Private money will be used to advance economic growth efforts, says EDC President and CEO Rod Crider.

Crider came to Rowan County from Wooster, Ohio, after having experience in economic development organizations and chambers of commerce organizations in in several other states. That experience has included five fundraising campaigns for economic development organizations, Crider said.

Crider said the campaign, called Forward Rowan, will bring private and public sector money together to achieve a common goal while also diversifying the organization’s funding streams. While in Wooster, Ohio, Crider said, he flipped the economic development organization’s funding from majority public to majority private.

“We have to fund our efforts at the appropriate levels, but we can’t keep going back to government for more funding,” he said.

Forward Rowan wouldn’t immediately flip funding to majority private, as the county allocated $616,403 and the city of Salisbury budgeted $114,088 for the organization in the current fiscal year. It would, however, be a first-of-its-kind effort in Rowan County.

Bryan Overcash, chairman of the Rowan EDC board, said the organization is working to determine details of the fundraising campaign, but he believes it’s needed. Support, financial and otherwise, from local governments has proved itself valuable through announcements by Chewy.com, among others, to build a 700,000-square-foot fulfillment center on Long Ferry Road. And, Overcash said, support has created “a lot of positive momentum.”

“There’s a strong case to be made for existing businesses in Rowan County to help support economic development,” he said.

Crider, a former chamber of commerce president, said the Rowan EDC’s fundraising campaign won’t compete with the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy organization that has an annual campaign soliciting new members.

“It’s been my experience that campaigns of this type do not diminish the chamber’s ability to have its annual campaign,” Crider said. “We are approaching different audiences and we’re approaching them for different reasons. … I think we have very clearly defined missions and we work extremely well together.”

Crider said he would encourage businesses to maintain their membership or join the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce if forced to choose between it and the Forward Rowan campaign.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.

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