Rowan EDC annual meeting focuses on highlights of 2,900 jobs, $600 million in capital investment in 2022

Published 12:04 am Friday, February 24, 2023

SALISBURY — New jobs and additional investments were among the highlights as local leaders gathered at the F&M Trolley Barn for the annual meeting of the Rowan County Economic Development Council on Thursday afternoon.

“Rowan County is on fire right now” said Rod Crider, CEO and president of the EDC.

Crider spoke on accomplishments of 2022, including bringing 2,900 jobs to the county, almost $600 million in capital investment and an increase in the average hourly wage to just above $18. The county’s average wage of $50,138 is the 14th highest in North Carolina and the fifth highest in the Charlotte region.

Crider said the council is transitioning from focusing on business attraction to talent attraction. The EDC, in a partnership with the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, launched a campaign by hiring talent attraction firm RoleCall in June 2022. The firm is working with county employers to build a “talent task force” in hopes of bringing potential new workers to the area. Crider said the campaign was the most significant achievement the EDC had in 2022. Advertisement firm Miller Davis also built a talent attraction hub website:

“It’s going to be really critical to our future,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

The project with retail giant
Macy’s was also critical to the EDC’s success in 2022. The 1.4 million-square-foot distribution center totals  an investment of over $580 million in China Grove. It is expected to create 2,800 jobs by the end of 2028 and 2,000 seasonal part-time jobs.

The EDC also reported 22 million square feet of new speculative space available in the county, with another 8 million square feet being built. This is the largest amount of speculative space of any county in the Charlotte region, Crider said. Speculative building is any space that has not been leased to a tenant prior to construction, which means it’s ready for potential new businesses to take it over. If all of the space gets built, the EDC estimates 20,000 to 30,000 new employees will relocate to Rowan County.

“We’re looking forward to all these new buildings coming into the marketplace as they’re being constructed and the opportunities that are going to come with those,” he said.

Crider also mentioned the potential opportunity for the county to be a part of the supply chain for electric vehicles.

The meeting’s keynote speaker was Didi Caldwell, president and founding principal of Global Location Strategies, which provides services for location strategy, site selection and incentives negotiation. Caldwell’s speech focused on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the nation’s economy, but said it was still better and stronger than any place else in the world.

She also focused on growth in North Carolina, which is ninth in the country in population and is one of the leading states in manufacturing projects.

Also at the meeting, the Rowan County Rockstar award was given to Tammy Whaley, an economic development senior manager for Duke Energy. Whaley has been instrumental in “championing Rowan County for decades.” Denise Hallet, a board member for the EDC from 2017-2022, was also recognized for her service.