Some months ago, I wrote an article about Gastonia being great again. I suggested we work more closely with Charlotte and its leaders because our future was tied to that of Charlotte.
Since then, I have studied the matter more and have somewhat changed my opinion. It is true that Gastonia benefits from the amenities of Charlotte – the airport, sports teams, arts and all of the benefits of a large city without the cost of inconvenience. I have found, however, that Charlotte competes vigorously for all new opportunities that eye the Metrolina area. Any new business, any new housing project, any new commercial venture is sucked up by Charlotte. Further, it has a large competitive advantage since much of the state’s incentive money has been directed to Mecklenburg County.
If Gastonia is lucky, we may gather a few crumbs that Charlotte pushes aside. Would there be more growth if Gastonia were not close to Charlotte? Look at Greenville, SC or even Hickory and Asheville. Since we cannot relocate, we will never know the answer.
Maintaining contacts with Charlotte is still important. When those crumbs fall off the table, we can make sure we get our share or more, instead of Monroe, Rock Hill or Concord. Also we can make Gastonia the place to live for those who work in Charlotte but don’t want to fight the traffic gridlock that pervades Charlotte and the Lake Norman/Lake Wylie corridor.
This goes back to my previous article wherein we must improve our image, our regulatory climate and our schools to make Gastonia the desirable place to do business and the place to live a quiet and less-hectic life. It can be done and then Charlotte will be a blessing instead of a curse.
Gray, Layton, Kersh, Solomon, Furr and Smith