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Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

KANNAPOLIS — The city of Kannapolis in 2021 expects to see a continued trend of positive growth in both residential and commercial development, according to a news release from the city.

Numerous subdivisions, apartment and town home communities and commercial and industrial projects have been approved or are in the process of being approved. Kannapolis is the 20th largest city in North Carolina and the population is approximately 51,000.

From 2017 to 2020, Kannapolis issued approximately 300 permits annually for new single-family homes. While these numbers reflect a very strong single-family housing market, the majority of residential growth occurring during this time period was in the multifamily market with several apartment and townhome projects receiving permits.In 2017 there were no multifamily permits issues but in 2018, 492 units were permitted and in 2019, 724 units were permitted for multifamily residential development. In 2020 the number of permitted multifamily units dropped to 270 as several projects continued to progress towards completion, including VIDA – a mixed-use development that will serve as one of the anchors for the city’s downtown redevelopment efforts.

In the same four-year time period, permit values for commercial development were between $60,000,000-$108,000,000 annually. In 2017 commercial development permits were valued at $60,584,426. In 2018 they were valued at $108,867,559 and in 2019 they were valued at  $81,206,890. These investments included light industry and logistics facilities such as Amazon and Prime Beverage. In 2020, commercial permit values declined to $38,769,367, reflecting the overall regional economic decline due to the impact of the COVID-19.

Growth continues to occur primarily in the western area of the city, especially along Kannapolis Parkway. The city has captured the attention of several national home builders such as D.R. Horton, Lennar, Pulte, and MI Homes who are now building new homes in Kannapolis. Residential development in the Kellswater, Austin Corners, Trinity Crossing and The Falls neighborhoods continues. Construction is also continuing on apartment developments including VIDA and Coddle Creek Apartments.  Work recently began on the city’s newest multifamily development, Argento at Kellswater Bridge, which is a 270-unit project located at the corner of Rogers Lake Road and Kannapolis Parkway.

For development projects starting construction in 2021, the numbers for residential and commercial permits are expected to be strong, the city reports.

In January, the Kannapolis Zoning Commission approved almost 500 new multi-family units, reinforcing the continued strength of the multi-family market in the City.

“We have a total of 7,400 residential units approved or under review at this time. These are single family homes, apartments, and townhomes. With this growth, the City’s Planning Department is continuously looking for ways to improve the development plan review and approval process to facilitate that growth,” Zac Gordon, planning director for the city of Kannapolis, said in a news release. “Last year, Kannapolis made the transition to the Accela electronic plan review, approval and permitting system. Online planning forms and applications have also been updated, along with the city now offering applicants the option of making online payments, making the development plan review and approval process easier to navigate through for those wanting to develop in Kannapolis. 

There are a number of infill development projects going on in Kannapolis, including Grand Sabana, Martin Circle Townhomes and Hillside. These projects will be located in the older established areas of the city.

Development related to the downtown revitalization project includes VIDA, along with street level commercial and restaurant space, which will open in late March 2021, and Pennant Square Townhomes which expects to break ground in spring 2021 and will feature 128 for sale units. The new Atrium Health Ballpark and West Avenue Streetscape have also been completed. Dozens of businesses have opened downtown including restaurants, boutiques, a brewery, a bicycle shop, a hair salon and a barber shop.

Commercial development also continues to show growth with new national restaurants planned for Kannapolis Parkway across from Afton Ridge.  Several large light industrial development projects along the I-85 corridor are also currently under review by the city, which reflects the continued strong market for logistics, light manufacturing, and assembly in Kannapolis, as well as Cabarrus County. 

“We continue to see the benefits of our investments in water and sewer infrastructure. The investment in our transportation corridors, such as Kannapolis Parkway, West Avenue, Main Street, and the new I-85 Exit 65, are leading developers and companies to our City. This  means new jobs and opportunities for our residents,” Kannapolis City Mayor Darrell Hinnant said in a news release. 

Other factors contributing to the development of the city include a high quality of life, location along the I-85 corridor and proximity to the Charlotte region. 

“As growth happens in the Charlotte region and moves up the I-85 corridor, companies and people look for nearby cities to move to that offer a welcoming business atmosphere and great quality of life for their employees,” Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said in a news release. “We have a forward-looking City Council and staff who have invested in the right things to ensure we attract quality companies and grow responsibly.”

In the last four years the city has welcomed a one million-square-foot Amazon Distribution Center, the Linder Industrial Machinery Company, the N.C. Food Innovation Lab and the Prime Beverage Manufacturing facility on Kannapolis Parkway. Each of these facilities has brought hundreds of jobs to the city.

Downtown Salisbury will ring in spring with socially distanced Easter Bunny pictures

SALISBURY — Downtown Salisbury will still host its annual Ring in Spring event in and around downtown on Saturday, March 27 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The revamped event will consist of attendees signing-up for a free professional photo with the Easter Bunny and receiving a grab-and-go craft kit.

Photos with the Easter Bunny will occur in 20 minute increments. There are only 10 slots available within each time slot. Each family member that will be attending to take the photo (excluding babies under two) will need to be signed up. Masks are required, social distancing measures and sanitation procedures will be in place.

To sign up, visit downtownsalisburync.com.

Salisbury affirms rating to the city’s water and sewer bonds

SALISBURY — Fitch Ratings has assigned an AA- rating to the City of Salisbury’s $39.9 million combined enterprise system revenue bonds, series 2020.

In addition, Fitch Ratings assessed the city’s water and sewer system’s standalone credit profile at AA-. The rating outlook was declared stable.

“I am very proud of the work our city management and finance team has been doing to ensure that we receive the best possible rating, Salisbury Finance Director Shannon Moore said in a news release. “It further confirms the work the team has been doing to ensure the City’s financial stability aligns with critical investments even in the midst of today’s difficult financial and economic conditions. These efforts will continue to save our residents money over the long haul.”

In a press release issued by Fitch Ratings, the conclusion stated that “the system’s operating risk profile is supported by a very low operating cost burden with elevated life cycle investment needs. Revenue defensibility reflects largely affordable rates, offset by stable demographic characteristics. The system is highly concentrated yet most customers are stable municipal and public entities.”

Key factors cited by Fitch that contributed to Salisbury’s credit rating include affordable rates, very low operating cost burden and a very strong financial profile.

Chamber set to welcome new executives at Business After Hours event

SALISBURY — During a virtual Business After Hours event on Monday, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce will welcome several new executives and senior level managers that have recently moved into the community.

Those to be included in the welcome: Dr. David Nelson, Catawba College president; Desiree Dunston, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center senior director; John Carr, Salisbury Post publisher; Peter Frazese, Spencer town manager; Sada Steward, Historic Salisbury director; Megan Smith, Rowan Cabarrus Community College Small Biz Center director.

Those attending the virtual reception are encouraged to grab a libation and welcome these members. A zoom link will be sent upon registration, which can be done online at rowanchamber.com. Those experiencing difficulties registering can contact echurch@rowanchamber.com.

Landis promotes three employees within Public Safety Department

LANDIS — The Landis Public Safety Department recently announced the promotion of three employees: Kevin Young, Charles Sheeks and Dakota Toms.

Kevin Young, who served as the interim chief of police prior to the appointment of Zachary Lechette as public safety director, was promoted to assistant public safety director on Feb. 2.

“Kevin has a wide variety of experience in the fire service and in law enforcement which makes him a tremendous asset to the Town of Landis,” Lechette said in a news release. “Kevin’s new role as the assistant public safety director will fulfill the duties and responsibilities typically associated with the positions of the assistant chief of police and the assistant fire chief.”

Young has over 17 years of law enforcement experience and over 20 years of experience in the fire service. Some of his certifications include the Advanced Law Enforcement Certification, EMT-Basic, Firefighter I & II and several other certification courses. Young has been with the Town of Landis Police Department since 2007, serving as a patrol officer, K9 officer, patrol supervisor and interim chief.

Charles Sheeks, formerly a lieutenant with the Landis Fire Department, was promoted to captain on Feb. 24.

“Charles has over 19 years of experience in the fire service and his new role as captain will help continue to build our new organizational structure as we move toward a public safety model,” Lechette said.

Sheeks has several professional certifications including Firefighter I & II, Fire Officer I & II, Level 2 Qualified Instructor, EMT-Basic, CPR Instructor, Technical Ropes Rescue Specialist, Swift Water and Surface Water Rescue and many other certification courses. Sheeks has been with the Town of Landis Fire Department since 2016, serving as a full-time lieutenant on C Shift.

Dakota Toms, previously a patrol officer, was promoted to patrol sergeant on March 3, 2021. 

Toms has over six years of law enforcement experience and holds several fire and law enforcement certifications such as Firefighter I & II, First Line Supervision, RADAR/LIDAR Operator, Field Training Officer and Technical Rescuer, among many others.

“Sergeant Toms brings a lot of experience to the Landis Police Department and to this position,” Lachette said. “His previous work as a police supervisor and firefighter are beneficial to the town. Sergeant Toms has positioned himself to become one of our first dually certified public safety officers.”

“These promotions mark the beginning of the Public Safety Department’s organizational changes and restructuring,” Lachette said. “The three promoted employees are highly qualified and I look forward to working with them as we provide professional fire and police services to the town and build our new program.”

Cheerwine’s sugar-free soda undergoes rebranding, now called ‘Cheerwine Zero Sugar’

SALISBURY — Previously known as Diet Cheerwine, the Salisbury-based soda company’s sugar free drink is being rebranded as Cheerwine Zero Sugar.

The newly renamed soda has already started populating the shelves and fridges of grocery stores throughout the south.

“Cheerwine Zero Sugar offers the great taste of regular Cheerwine, but without the calories,” Joy Ritchie Harper, vice-president of marketing for Cheerwine and fifth-generation founding family member, said in a news release. “And fans of Diet Cheerwine can still enjoy the delightful sugar-free cherry taste they love with Cheerwine Zero Sugar.”

For over 20 years, Cheerwine produced Diet Cheerwine using the popular Splenda/Sucralose blend sweetener that’s found in other zero-sugar soft drinks.

“We decided to update Diet Cheerwine to Cheerwine Zero Sugar to better reflect the drink’s flavor profile,” Harper said.

Cheerwine Zero Sugar is now available in 12-ounce cans and two-liter bottles on grocery store shelves across North Carolina and South Carolina, and select Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland markets. Over the coming weeks, the soft drink company will roll out Cheerwine Zero Sugar in 20-ounce bottles; six-pack .5-liter bottles; and four-pack 12-ounce glass bottles.

Cheerwine Zero Sugar can be purchased online and is available at restaurants that previously carried Diet Cheerwine. 

Cheerwine is also unveiling Zero Sugar recipes, including low carb Cheerwine cherry daiquiris, keto Cheerwine glazed oven ribs, and low carb Cheerwine cherry cheesecake fluff, for fans to try at home. The full collection of new low-carb and zero sugar recipes can be found on cheerwine.com/recipes/zero-sugar-low-carb/.  

“Southern home cooks and chefs have incorporated Cheerwine into recipes for decades, so we wanted to introduce Cheerwine Zero Sugar alongside a collection of fresh new drinks and dishes for our fans to try,” Harper said.

Cabarrus Center for economic development opens in downtown Concord

CONCORD — A ribbon cutting was held earlier this month to announce the opening of the Cabarrus Center in downtown Concord in the former Cabarrus Saving Bank Building.

Flywheel, a company that works to create co-working communities, has designed and is now managing the space.

“Cabarrus County has embraced this project beyond our wildest expectations, and we are sincerely grateful to the Cannon Foundation for their support of the capital improvements, and Truist for their title sponsorship of Flywheel and our programming,” Flywheel founder Peter Marsh said in a news release.

The Cabarrus Center welcomes aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses to learn, grow, and accelerate their businesses through education, networking and mentoring.

“Entrepreneurs that take advantage of the services being offered at the Cabarrus Center will help to fill the pipeline of opportunities created by the North Carolina Research Campus, the Grounds at Concord, International Business Park, our revitalized downtowns and other new industrial areas that will be developed in Cabarrus County,” Cabarrus County Commissioner Steve Morris said in a news release. “The central location across the street from our Cabarrus Governmental Center will be a one stop, under one roof opportunity that solidifies Cabarrus County as the place for new business.”

The Cabarrus Entrepreneurship Council was created several months ago to help develop that “under one roof” vision. The council is made up of both the partners who will provide programming at the Cabarrus Center and other key businesses and organizations who have offered relevant insight into the needs of the business community.

Entrepreneurship Council members represent the Cabarrus Arts Council, Cabarrus Economic, Development Corporation, The Chamber – Leading Business in Cabarrus, Downtown Concord Development Corporation, EO Accelerator, Flywheel Coworking, Flywheel Foundation, Gibson Mill, Hydromer, NC Biotechnology Center, NC Food Innovation Lab, NC Research Campus, Small Business Center, Small Business and Technology Development Center, Women’s Business Center of Charlotte, Barber-Scotia College, City of Concord, City of Kannapolis, Town of Harrisburg, Town of Mount Pleasant, Town of Midland, Cabarrus County, Perry Productions, and Market Street Studios.

The Cabarrus Center has over 20 private offices, shared meeting space and common areas for businesses to grow as well as network with other businesses. Flywheel manages the space and memberships with flexible, short-term plans for companies that are just starting out or looking to grow.

“The Cabarrus Center is a wonderful addition to Cabarrus County and the cities and towns in Cabarrus County,” Concord Mayor Bill Dusch said in a news release. “Concord is proud to have been selected to house these resources needed by small business owners, innovators and entrepreneurs allowing them to move their ideas forward.”

Cabarrus Center is asking that you reach out in advance to schedule a private tour or join us for one of our drop in events on March 24 from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. or April 28 from noon – 2:00 p.m. More information can be found on the Cabarrus Center’s website at www.cabarruscenter.com.

High Point University poll indicates low consumer morale

Consumer sentiment among North Carolinians remains low according to the results of a poll recently conducted by High Point University.

The HPU Consumer Sentiment Index is a measurement of five separate questions asking respondents about different aspects of how they view the U.S. economy and their own personal finances.

The newest index based on February 2021 poll data is recorded at 71.4, which is slightly lower than the 74.4 index recorded in HPU’s November poll.

“Consumer sentiment remains low because COVID-19 is still here, and most are still waiting to get vaccinated,” Daniel Hall, High Point University chair and associate professor of economics, said in a news release. “Some are worried that inflation might creep up before the recovery and dampen their purchasing power. Others still cannot find work or know someone who cannot.”

Findings for the individual questions show why the overall index fluctuates year to year, but has remained low, reflecting pessimism among consumers.

The February 2021 Index Results:

– 24% of North Carolina residents said they are better off financially than they were a year ago, compared to 28% of respondents in November 2020.

– 32% of North Carolinians believe they will be better off financially a year from now.

– 34% of respondents said they expect bad business conditions in the next 12 months. In November 2020, that number was 23%.

– 37% of respondents said that during the next five years or so, the country will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression.

– 32% of North Carolina residents said now is a bad time to make a major household purchase, compared to 34% in November 2020.

The HPU Poll also asked North Carolinians about food hardship and food security. In order to measure food hardship, HPU’s Survey Research Center administered a question fielded by the Gallup organization as part of its Gallup‐Healthways Well‐Being Index and reported by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in its research. The question asked respondents if there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their family needed. About one-third (31%) said that there have been times, while 66% said that there have not been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food that their family needed.

To measure relative food security, the HPU Poll asked an abbreviated set of questions from the U.S. Household Food Security Six-Item Short Form Survey Module developed by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics. When asked if they ever ate less than they felt they should because there wasn’t enough money for food in the past 12 months, 29% of poll respondents said yes, while 67% said that no to this question.

The poll also asked respondents if in the last 12 months they were ever hungry but didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough money for food. Almost one-quarter (24%) of poll respondents said yes, while 73% said that they were not hungry but didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough money for food.

“Before the pandemic, FRAC ranked North Carolina 17th in the nation for the worst food hardship with 16.4% of our population sometimes not having enough money to buy food,” Joe Blosser, High Point University’s Robert G. Culp director of service learning and associate professor of religion and philosophy, said in a news release. “While this survey utilized a different methodology, the data from the HPU Poll suggests a sharp increase in the state’s food hardship number in the last year. This should be a real call to action.”

The HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Feb. 12 through Feb. 26 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 854 adults interviewed online (549 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (305 respondents). 

Navigation at Salemtown gets new name, expands services into Rowan County

After five years of operation, Navigation by Salemtowne will undergo a rebranding and will now be known as Navigation at Home.

In addition to its name change, Navigation at Home is adding new program benefits and doubling its service area. 

“Navigation is a Continuing Care at Home program. It always has been and always will be,” Salemtowne President and CEO Mark Steele said in a news release. “Our new Navigation at Home name emphasizes the goal we’ve had since the inception of the program—to support our members’ desire to live at home for as long as possible and to do so with great success.”

Navigation at Home remains a division of Salemtowne.

Navigation at Home has doubled its service area and is now available in 20 counties in North Carolina, including Rowan County. Navigation at Home will continue to serve Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin. In addition, the service now serves Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Randolph counties.

“Current members of Navigation at Home will experience the same commitment they have always enjoyed from the Navigation team to support their wellness-focused lifestyle at home,” Steele said.  “Those just now exploring their long-term care options can rest assured that with Navigation at Home they can expect a reputable Continuing Care at Home program that provides them with customized plans, resources, and security to successfully live at home for as long as possible.”

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