Editorial by Don Ballard
The Lincoln Times-News recently announced three new industries tolocate to Lincoln County, bringing 700 new job opportunities. Wow. This is great. While attempting to digest this exciting news, I allowed my mind to scroll back a few years to recant other similar announcements. The I recalled existing industry expansions growing new job opportunities. All of this new industry is making Lincoln County a stellar county in which to live and work. These new jobs bring satellite businesses to support the industry, retail trade and people. Boy, does it bring people. The questions started surfacing, such as, what is happening; how is this happening; is this “just” happening; does everyone out there just like Lincoln County; or is there a plan? I concluded there was a plan and someone was driving or leading the projects. It did not take long for the road to lead me to the Lincoln Economic Development Association (LEDA). Barry Matherly heads this non-profit group whose responsibility is to sell Lincoln County. This he does quite well. I quickly learned since 2000, there have been 27 new industries located in Lincoln County. Additionally, there have been 26 existing industry expansions. All of this industrial growth has brought 3200 new jobs. During the same time, Lincoln County has lost 1121 jobs. This is a new gain of 2079 new jobs. You who are reading this may hold one of these new jobs. You are the best testimonial Lincoln County needs. This growth has generated almost $400 million in new investments, which adds to our tax base. The tax administrator will love this new source of revenue. Lincoln County has a workforce of 38,623 individuals. There are 18,694 Lincoln County residents who work here and 19,929 who work out of county. If you are one of those working out of the county, wouldn’t you love to see more jobs coming, so as to reduce some gasoline use, not to mention additionaltime away from home? At almost $3 gallon, it adds greatly to operating expenses, not counting the additional time away from home. My research and development instincts reveal that all of this industrial growth is the result of an effective action plan and the involved indivuduals are executing the plan with efficiency. Lincoln County has recently gained recognition as having a good business climate that is supported by both the city of Lincolnton and Lincoln County. Together they have made a difference and a great team. They set at the table together; they support what is good for the city, county and ultimately the citizens. They agree that business and industry does more to grow an area and solve economic issues than government by itself. The local governments carry the flag and open the doors. The create the climate to operate. They are selling Lincoln County with vigor and are vigilant in their efforts. To the officials of Lincolnton and Lincoln County, I commend you for all of your hard and worthy work. Our citizens need to say job well done; however, the job is not over, as there are still 19,929 working out of our county. I am a firm believer in providing people the opportunity to better themselves, to get a better job and obtain a better education. I think it is the American way. The Lincoln Economic Development Association is a non-profit organization that was established and is financially supported by the city of Lincolnton, Lincoln County and private contributions. There is a board of directors that meets regularly to guide, direct and set policy for the staff. This group also visits existing industry to say thank you for being in Lincoln County. I will use a slogan currently advertised by another business in North Carolina which sends the message: “There is opportunity in Lincoln County.” I summation, to the city of Lincolnton, Lincoln County and the Lincoln Economic Development Association, especially Barry Matherly, Rhonda Hunter, Laura Foor (currently with the Charlotte Regional Partnership) and Mitch Miller, I say a big “Thank you, thank you and thank you. Keep up the good work.” Printed in the Lincoln Times-News as submitted by Don Ballard, a resident of Lincolnton.