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Biz Roundup: Rowan County, Charlotte region housing markets continue to stay hot

SALISBURY — With mortgage rates as low as they’ve ever been, the housing market in Rowan County stayed hot throughout 2020.

Average housing sales prices were up 24.9% over a year ago, reaching $232,413, according to a report from Allen Tate Realtors. Across the Charlotte region, the average increase was 13.6%.

Rowan County had the highest increase in closed home sales in the Charlotte region with a 37.4% increase, compared to an average increase of 11.9%.

Dianne Greene, owner of CENTURY 21 Towne & Country in Salisbury, said in a Rowan Economic Development Commission newsletter that low mortgage rates and Rowan County’s location was the reason for the surge in home buying.

“Buyers are paying over asking price just to get the house they want,” Greene said. “Our inventory has dwindled tremendously, which means multiple offers on many properties. Some houses are on the market for only an hour if priced right.”

That was true for the entire Charlotte region. A report from Canopy Realtor Association showed 2,958 homes in inventory in the Charlotte region, which equates to 0.6 months of supply of homes for sale (roughly 18 days of supply) left in the market at the current sales pace. In February 2020 there were 8,267 homes for sale or 1.9 months of supply.

“Inventory in our market has reached a critical level that could hold sales back this year,” David Kennedy, 2021 Canopy Realtor Association/Canopy MLS president, said in a news release. “We are certainly at a point where we need to see more housing stock, particularly in price points that are attractive to a number of buyers, as we don’t want to see first-time buyers, single buyers and workforce housing buyers locked out of the market.”

Greene said that the sales demand in Rowan County is coming from people moving south due to retirement and that many are coming from the northeast, midwest and even California due to lower cost of living, weather and High Rock Lake. 

The boom has been welcome news for Rowan County homeowners, where about 69% of households are owner-occupied, but it’s also frustrating for those looking to purchase a home. That situation may soon improve markedly as a number of new housing developments are underway or planned for Rowan County.

In Salisbury, for instance, more than 1,100 housing units are in the “development pipeline,” meaning they were either under active construction or were in the development review process. Similar developments are underway in Faith, Rockwell, China Grove Granite Quarry and other locales across Rowan County. 

“New housing is a sign of a growing economy and will help to spur the development of new retail and commercial ventures such as the new Texas Roadhouse restaurant planned for Julian Road,” EDC president Rod Crider said in a news release. “Rowan County is a highly desirable location for new residents and businesses and we expect this housing boom to continue for the foreseeable future.” 

The bustling housing market is poised to stay busy. Canopy reported that February homes sales rose 5.9% compared to February 2020 as 3,510 homes sold across the 16-county Charlotte region. Data from Canopy MLS also showed a 3.9%  increase over sales in January.

Both the median sales price ($293,495) and the average sales price ($340,881) increased last month, rising 11.7% and 11.8% year-over-year, respectively. The average list price of $380,319 rose 8.2% year-over-year, and the original list price to sales price ratio was 99.3%, showing sellers are getting nearly all of their asking prices in the market. Days on market averaged 31 days in February versus 50 days in February 2020, which shows homes are selling at a brisk pace.

Rowan Chamber to celebrate 95th annual meeting in April 

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 95th annual meeting at a virtual Power in Partnership program on April 15 at 7:30 a.m. with production quality enhanced videos and award presentations.

“We’ll make this year’s 95th Annual Meeting a wonderful Spring virtual program and celebrate in person with a super-duper Business After Hours mixer at the new Bell Tower Green Park in the Fall,” Annual Meeting Committee Chair Cindy Hart said in a news release.

The traditional passing of the gavel ceremony, with some “fun twists,” will be conducted from 2020 Chair of the Board Gary Blabon, president and COO of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, to 2021 Chair of the Board and F&M Executive Vice President Bob Honeycutt.

Annual award videos will be shown in a “Publishers Clearing House” style presentation to Chamber Volunteer of the Year, Small Business of the Year and the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.

Sponsors for the 95th Annual Meeting include: Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, Duke Energy, F&M Bank, Trinity Oaks, Atrium Health, Food Lion, Fisher Realty, Inc., Premiere Federal Credit Union, Godley’s Garden Center and Nursery, Hood Theological Seminary and Rowan EDC.

The Rowan Chamber was officially chartered on March 19, 1925. It began as the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and later expanded to the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber recently started a Past Chairs Council and will recognize charter members, long-term businesses in the community and historic accomplishments all year long.

The Chamber’s first Annual Report shows support for bringing Catawba College to Salisbury, lobbying for better roads and work on establishing a “creamery” in the community. Early business leaders included: Sam Carter, President; L. S. Moody, Sec.; Ross Sigmon; J.O. Draige; P.A. Wallenborn; S. H. Snider; Stahle Linn; C. L. Coggin; J. L. Fisher; J. F. Somer; J.V. Wallace; T. M. Hines; and, J. F. Hurley, Jr.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Gateway Building development. The Chamber conducted two separate fundraising campaigns, led by Paul E. Fisher and Pete Teague. The building was complete in February 2001 with a building dedication ceremony held in May 2001.

More recent accomplishments of the Chamber include priority project identification and advocacy efforts in conjunction with our community partners for: Yadkin River Bridge (now Veterans Memorial Bridge); I-85 four-lane expansion through Rowan County; I-85 exit at Old Beatty Ford Rd. (now Exit #65 and Kannapolis Crossing a new mixed use development of commercial and residential property); Rowan County Airport funding (now Mid-Carolina Airport); North Carolina Transportation Museum; Rowan-Cabarrus Community College; and Rowan-Salisbury School System.

 If you are not a Power Card holder, individual reservations for the Power in Partnership are welcome. However, the reservation deadline is Tues., April 13 by 5 p.m. The cost is $15 for members and $25 for non-members. Contact the Chamber for information on reservations or sponsorship opportunities at 704-633-4221 or info@rowanchamber.com or www.rowanchamber.com.

Rowan EDC hires new marketing and communications manager

SALISBURY — The Rowan Economic Development Commission has hired Jay Garneau as the organization’s new marketing and communications manager.

Garneau arrives in Rowan County after a stint as communications manager for the Bethesda center for the Homeless in Winston-Salem. He previously served for more than six years as associate director of athletic communications at Wake Forest University.

“I’m thrilled to be the newest member of the EDC team and I can’t thank Rod, Scott, Kendall and Joanie enough for the opportunity and the warm welcome,” Garneau said in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the importance of a strong digital and creative presence, which I’m excited to assist with as the EDC continues the positive momentum in Rowan County.”

In his new role with the Rowan EDC, Garneau will elevate the organization’s brand and visibility by developing and implementing marketing programs that support the organization’s efforts to attract businesses and talent to Rowan County, and provide expansion services to existing businesses. He will also lead efforts to grow the EDC’s social media presence, maintain and enhance the website, and prepare written and visual creative content.

Jay Garneau recently joined the Rowan EDC as the organization’s new Marketing & Communications Manager. Photo submitted.

“We’re excited to welcome Jay to the Rowan EDC team,” Rod Crider, Rowan EDC president, said in a news release. “He is an experienced communications professional with a proven ability to increase exposure through marketing and PR efforts. He’ll be an asset to our organization as we work to accelerate Rowan County’s growth through the Forward Rowan campaign that assists our existing businesses with their expansion plans and promotes our locational advantages for attracting new investment to Rowan County.”

Garneau received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Northern University and a master’s from Western Illinois University.

In addition to his work at Wake Forest, he has served on the media relations game-week staff of the Bahamas Bowl since 2017, and served as a press officer with USA Baseball in 2015.

Forward Rowan campaign adds two local companies to growing list of sponsors

SALISBURY — The Rowan Economic Development Commission announced that Daimler and Hexagon Agility have committed to being investors in the Forward Rowan campaign for economic growth.

“We thank Daimler and Hexagon Agility for their outstanding commitment to our community and investment in this growth initiative,” Rod Crider, president of the Rowan EDC, said in a news release. “Their leadership in all facets of our community is exemplary.”

The Forward Rowan campaign is a public-private partnership to improve economic conditions in Rowan County. It is projecting more than 2,500 new jobs and $350 million in new capital investments across the county over the next five years. A complete list of those who have invested in the campaign can be found here.

“As a key employer in Rowan County, we strive to be a great corporate partner and support the community where we work and live,” Erik Johnson, general manager for the Daimler Truck Cleveland facility, said in a news release. “To further this effort, we are proud to support the goals of the Forward Rowan campaign to reduce poverty, increase prosperity and improve the quality of life for all residents of Rowan County.”

Cheerwine surprises Charlotte shoppers with free groceries, Cheerwine swag

CHARLOTTE — Cheerwine recently surprised more than 30 shoppers at a Food Lion in Charlotte by telling them that they owed “zero dollars” for their groceries. 

To celebrate the launch of Cheerwine Zero Sugar, the Salisbury-based soda company surprised lucky Charlotte residents with “zero-dollar” grocery bills.

Winners also received a free Cheerwine Zero Sugar and promotional swag bags at checkout. Cheerwine also created smaller moments of “cheer” for Food Lion patrons by handing out Cheerwine Zero Sugar samples and a number of gift cards to customers.

Cheerwine suprised over 30 Charlotte grocery shoppers with free groceries and a bottle of Cheerwine Zero Sugar. Photo submitted.

American Rescue Plan includes funding that could help local businesses

Signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, the American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion dollar relief package that could have significant implications for local businesses.

While details are still emerging about how the long term impact of the bill, the package does include support for small businesses in the form of an additional $7.25 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program and restores the State of Small Business Credit Initiative, which will deliver $10 billion in flexible, affordable capital to small businesses. In addition, the package includes $28.6 billion to support independent bars and restaurants.

The bill also catalyzed the Community Navigator Program. Established through the Small Business Administration, the $100 million program will provide funding to entities that are assisting small businesses in accessing SBA programs, including private non-profits and local governments. 

The package set aside $3 billion in additional funding through the Economic Adjustment Assistance program. The flexible funding program is open to all nonprofit entities and local governments.

Cabarrus County to host TikTok contest in honor of Fair Housing Month

KANNAPOLIS — In conjunction with Kannapolis and Concord, Cabarrus county will host a TikTok video contest in honor of Fair Housing Month.

High school students in Cabarrus County and Kannapolis residents in Rowan County are encouraged to participate. Community development and housing staff from the three governments will select winning videos based on the best use of the theme “Home Sweet Home.”

 “We want to use this opportunity to work with the youth of our community to help them to better understand what fair housing means,” Sherry Gordon, city of Kannapolis community development program administrator, said in a news release. “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when purchasing or renting a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance or engaging in other housing-related activities.”

Students should keep in mind the following guidelines when creating their submission:

  • Relate to fair housing and the theme “Home Sweet Home.”
  • Be 15-60 seconds in length
  • Have relevant content
  • Contain no inappropriate language, gestures, clothing, or music. Videos should adhere to their school’s code of conduct.
  • Be from a high school student, enrolled in a private, public, or home school, in Cabarrus County or a Kannapolis resident in Rowan County.

“Using TikTok videos is a new way for us to engage and educate our young adults about this important topic in our community. We are excited to see the creative video submittals from our high schoolers,” Kelly Sifford, Cabarrus County planning and development director, said in a news release.

To enter, students should post their videos on TikTok with the hashtag #HomeSweetHomeNC. Students must also email their video to Gordon at sgordon@kannapolisnc.gov to qualify for prizes. In the email, participants must include their name, address, school, grade and a brief explanation of the video and how the theme was incorporated.

Prizes will be awarded to the first-place winner in the amount of $100, the second-place winner in the amount of $75, and the third-place winner in the amount of $50.

The contest opens March 22, and the last day to submit an entry is April 12. Winners will be announced via Zoom on April 22 during the Virtual Fair Housing Seminar featuring James Perry, president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League as the keynote speaker.

Isabella Casillas Guzman confirmed at 27th Small Business Administration administrator

In a bipartisan 81-17 vote, the U.S. Senate on March 16 confirmed Isabella Casillas Guzman as the 27th Small Business Administration administrator.

Guzman was President Joe Biden’s nominee. She will represent more than 30 million U.S. small businesses and lead an agency committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and be resilient.

“SBA must continue to be a lifeline for small businesses in the months ahead, and I am confident that Isabel Guzman is the best person to lead the agency out of the pandemic and through the economic recovery to follow,” Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) said in a news release.

This is Guzman’s second tenure at the SBA. She served in the Barack Obama administration as a senior advisor and the deputy chief of staff, where she oversaw the SBA’s adoption of improved policies, technology, and program initiatives to make SBA more accessible to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.

Most recently, Guzman served as the director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, where she served California’s 4 million small businesses, which employ 7.1 million Californians, the largest state network of small businesses in the country.  

“I am excited to return to the SBA and serve as the voice of small business in the Biden-Harris Administration. I am committed to championing the Agency’s mission and helping equitably build back the economy,” Guzman said in a news release. “I also look forward to working with the dedicated team of SBA professionals to ensure that the SBA creates and sustains inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems for all of our diverse small businesses across the nation to thrive.”

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