EDC discusses public transportation options for county’s workforce

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

SALISBURY — Limited public transportation and the effect it is having on the workforce was one of the main concerns discussed at the latest meeting of the Rowan County Economic Development Council’s Talent Task Force, a group comprised of Human Resources professionals from the county’s top employers.

The task force addressed that transit transfer sites are too far from employer locations and transit schedules can be inconvenient for employee shift times, according to a news release from the EDC, which also noted that “employees relying on public transportation are often forced to walk significant distances to get to work on largely non-pedestrian-friendly roadways, which is a safety concern.”

Public transportation issues took up much of the meeting, so the task force decided to schedule another meeting for later this month dedicated to the topic, according to Kendall Henderson, director of business services for the EDC.

“Because of some the takeaways as far as some of the issues that are on the horizon for our business community, we’re having one specifically on transportation later this month,” Henderson said. “It’s a network meeting specifically built for and led by our manufacturers (in the county).”

Figuring out how to improve access to public transportation for residents has been a top concern for some time. Last year, the city of Salisbury considered starting a micro-transit pilot program, which would offer ride-hailing services similar to Uber or Lyft instead of city buses. Salisbury Transit Director Rodney Harrison asked the Salisbury City Council to consider a pilot program testing out just one route for at least a year, but the program never got off the ground. The idea for the program came about after Salisbury officials met with officials from Wilson, who launched a micro-transit program there in 2020.

Other issues discussed during the task force’s meeting were the lack of local and affordable childcare facilities, as well as issues with employee attendance.

Formed last year to discuss issues of concern for employers and to provide guidance on the EDC’s talent attraction campaign, the Talent Task Force meets quarterly with officials from the EDC.