The Rowan EDC proudly hosted its 4th Annual Meeting yesterday at the F&M Trolley Barn, with F&M Bank as the presenting sponsor. This event commemorated another year of remarkable economic development in Rowan County, North Carolina, showcasing the significant strides made in attracting new jobs, investments, and educational initiatives to the area.

The event was supported by a distinguished list of sponsors, reflecting the collaborative spirit of the community and its dedication to economic development. Alongside F&M Bank, the event’s presenting sponsor, the meeting was made possible by the generous support of Holmes Iron & Metal, Inc., Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, Catawba College, Livingstone College, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Martin Marietta, Superior Walls, Vulcan, and Miller Davis. Their contributions underscore the broad-based commitment to fostering growth and prosperity in Rowan County.

2023 marked a landmark year for Rowan County, highlighted by three significant project announcements that collectively promise to deliver 342 new jobs, $198 million in capital investment, and average wages of $29.18 to the region. General RV is set to create 150 new jobs and invest $25 million, with operations commencing in fall 2024. Chick-fil-A Supply plans to introduce 112 new jobs and make a $58.3 million investment, also targeting an opening in fall 2024. DHL Supply Chain is expected to contribute 80 new jobs and $114.3 million in total investment, with its start slated for summer 2024. These developments emphasize Rowan County’s growing prominence as a logistical and industrial hub in the Southeast.

The 4th Annual Meeting highlighted the cumulative achievements of the Forward Rowan campaign, now in its culminating year. In its first four years, the initiative has exceeded its initial goals, generating 2,529 new jobs, $986 million in new capital expenditures, and an average wage of $25.82. Additionally, the development of over 19 million square feet in speculative buildings along the I-85 corridor and ongoing targeted marketing efforts have solidified Rowan County’s position as a logistical nexus for the burgeoning electric vehicle and food processing industries.

In addition to marking economic milestones, the Rowan EDC unveiled a significant enhancement to the “Choose Rowan” talent attraction campaign with the introduction of a Concierge Relocation Service. This service empowers employers to effectively onboard new hires to the community and assists in recruiting prospective talent, emphasizing the community’s commitment to not only attracting but also seamlessly integrating skilled workers and their families into Rowan County. Coupled with expanded educational outreach, including a military talent attraction weekend and an expanded weeklong celebration of National Manufacturing Day, these efforts underscore the community’s dedication to supporting new residents and bolstering local businesses.

The meeting also honored several key contributors to Rowan County’s success. Gary Blabon of Novant Health was recognized for his leadership as Rowan EDC’s 2023 board chairman. Additionally, City of Salisbury Councilman David Post was acknowledged for his invaluable years of service as the city’s liaison to the board. Everyone’s favorite local news reporter, David Whisenant, recently retired from WBTV, was celebrated with a gold record for his 32 years of exemplary news coverage of Rowan County.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Rock Star of the Year award to Craig Lamb, who recently retired from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College after nearly a decade of impactful service as the Vice President of Corporate and Continuing Education. Lamb was celebrated for his pivotal role in developing workforce training programs and educational collaborations that have significantly benefited Rowan County’s economic landscape.

Rowan EDC team members, who have closely worked with Lamb over the years, took the stage ‘Oscar-style’ to share their experiences of partnering with him.

Scott Shelton, Vice President of the Rowan EDC, reflected on Lamb’s legacy, stating, “I’ve known this year’s Rock Star award recipient longer than anyone else at the EDC. Through the years, the two of us have been on numerous site visits together with company officials looking to expand or bring their business to Rowan County. And, during these visits, what always struck me about this year’s Rock Star is how effortlessly he combined his considerable technical knowledge with an everyman likeability that resonated with so many of our prospects.”

Kendall Henderson, Director of Business Services at Rowan EDC, emphasized, “Craig has selflessly served as an extension to our team for the most critical meetings to bring projects across the finish line.”

Rod Crider, President of the Rowan EDC, highlighted, “Craig played a pivotal role in the formation of the Growing Rowan project which served as the foundation for the Forward Rowan initiative. He led the Rowan Education Collaborative, uniting educational institutions and the EDC in an effort to develop curriculum that meets the needs of businesses and foster a culture of learning in Rowan County.”

Jeannette Goldsmith, Vice President of Strategic Development Group based in Greenville, South Carolina, captivated attendees with her keynote address, offering a deep dive into the latest site selection trends and the vital strategies communities can employ to attract prospective investors. With nearly 25 years of experience in site selection and incentive negotiations, Goldsmith’s presentation not only underscored the importance of adaptive economic development practices but also spotlighted how Rowan County aligns with the key attributes sought by site selectors. She specifically praised Rowan County for its strategic location, robust workforce development initiatives, and proactive approach to meeting the evolving needs of businesses. Goldsmith’s insights affirmed that Rowan County is well-positioned and continues to excel in creating an attractive environment for new and expanding businesses. She highlighted the intangible “feeling” companies look for when deciding on a location, noting Rowan’s welcoming, collaborative, and engaged community as a key factor.

The Rowan EDC’s 4th Annual Meeting was not just a celebration of past achievements but a reaffirmation of the community’s commitment to sustainable growth and innovation. With the continued support of its partners and the dedication of its leaders, Rowan County is poised for an even brighter future.

Read about the 3rd Annual Meeting