Article Credit: Business View Magazine
With a community feeling, great amenities, and outdoor recreations options at its doorstep, Gaston County never falls short.
Why it matters: With so much history and natural beauty, tourism is an important economic driver throughout the region, and Gaston County is no exception. “We’re really fortunate to be located where we are, as part of this rapidly growing metro area, with easy accessibility and a lot of convenience to the southeast market by interstate 85,” says Michael Applegate, Director of Tourism and Development.
“We’re also fortunate to have the natural resources that we have. The county is bordered on the eastern side by the Catawba River, and on the western side by Crowder’s Mountain. Those are two really iconic destinations that 1000s of drivers see every day along Interstate 85,” he adds.
As part of a planned approach to growth, Gaston County is focused on industrial recruitment. Matthew Rhoten, Deputy County Manager relays, “We’ve been very successful in that. It’s been a really big focus of Gaston County to create jobs that have income levels that are at or above the country average. We’ve had a lot of investment from very large companies and a lot of North American headquarters have located here.”
Alisha Summey, Economic Development Commission Director of Operations, shares, “These land development activities led to recruiting dozens of companies over time and have helped rebuild the county’s economy after the decline of the textile industry. Allowing these business park developments has diversified the economy and allowed some of our smaller municipalities to gain large utility customers, and grow the overall tax base at the county and municipal levels.”
“The county takes development seriously”, says Director of Building and Development Services, Brian Sciba. We’re trying to create what we consider to be a one-stop shop when it comes to the permitting process and the development process, making it easier for developers coming into the area. That is a big focus for the county and has been for the last couple of years. We’re getting a lot of developers that are wanting to come here and be a part of it because they know what’s going to happen when they get here and how easy it’s going to be to actually work in our area.”
Gaston County is working on an update to its strategic plan, which will lead the county through the next 5 years. The plan will be divided into three focus areas: economic development and planned growth, recreation, culture, and lifelong learning, and community health, safety, and well-being. “Those are the three guideposts that we’re using to structure all of the initiatives into the future,” says Chief of Staff Justin Amos.
A community-wide vision is also helping to guide the county’s approach to economic development. County Manager Kim Eagle elaborates, “This touches the business community, all of the local governments in the county, non-profits, religious sectors, so this is truly a community-wide effort so that we can understand how we want to position Gaston County and how we can best work together to achieve that vision.”
In summary, Rhoten offers, “This county is full of top-notch public servants that are committed to the county’s mission, vision, and shared values. We all work together for the common goal of providing excellent public service to our citizens every day. I’m really proud to be not only part of the organization but part of the community. It truly is a great place to be.”
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