Harrisburg’s creation of an economic development director position is part of newly-elected Mayor Steve Sciascia’s focus on sustainable economic growth and increased communication with the community.With the addition of the new director, Anna Lu Wilson, town leaders say Harrisburg is poised to capitalize on its proximity to Charlotte, University City, and Interstates 85 and 485. “After a decade of tremendous residential growth, the town of Harrisburg is in an ideal position to seek out commercial development in sectors that best meet the needs of our residents and support long-term economic stability,” said Sciascia. “Hiring Anna Lu, along with our endorsement of the economic development strategic plan, demonstrates town council’s commitment to creating a welcoming climate for new and expanding businesses.” Harrisburg leaders are expected to adopt an economic development strategic plan in the next couple of months, said Ann Gibson, the town’s new communications specialist. The town has also started a branding study that should be finished before summer.Hiring an economic development director was recommended as part of the town’s plan, as was the branding study and the hiring of a communications specialist. Leaders say the economic development plan will serve as a map for the town’s progress.The town of Harrisburg created the new staff positions to expand efforts to bring new businesses to Harrisburg, and to increase support and communication within the current business community.Wilson has played integral roles in economic development in Charlotte and throughout Cabarrus County and downtown Concord.Wilson spent 12 years as director of economic development with the Charlotte Chamber. She served six years as an ex officio board member of the Concord Downtown Development Corporation, and Wilson left her position as vice president of business services with the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation to work in Harrisburg. Her familiarity with the area made her an ideal candidate for the position. She has been charged with supporting the development of Harrisburg’s Town Center and implementing the town’s economic development plan.The 42-year-old has lived in the area since 1995 and has been at her new job for about a month. She answered six questions for Cabarrus News regarding her new position. Q: What’s Harrisburg’s biggest hurdle and what is its biggest strength? A: “The biggest hurdle is strategically managing residential and commercial development for sustainable growth, while its biggest strength is its proximity to Charlotte, University City and Concord. There’s also a strong sense of a small-town community and resident engagement.” Q: What were your initial reactions to the town’s new economic development plan? Is there anything you’d add or change? A: “I was delighted that the town council chose to move forward with the strategic plan. There is a lot of flexibility in the recommendations, but overall it is a good road map to follow as we begin to get more involved.” Q: Why is Harrisburg hiring its own economic development director, and will it supplement what the Cabarrus EDC already does for the town? A: “Harrisburg leaders have taken an extra step to say they are committed to growth and change in the community. All the commercial brokers, developers and businesses are out there talking but have not had a common liaison to speak to directly about Harrisburg. The Cabarrus EDC … will continue to recruit businesses, and the town staff will work together to provide them the most comprehensive information on available sites and buildings.” Q: Can you briefly define sustainable growth and list a few essential ingredients necessary to maintain it? A: “Sustainable growth meets the needs of the current population while being mindful of future generations and their need to grow. Harrisburg is in a metro region of the 17th largest city in the United States. While we enjoy the feel of a small community, we need to be involved with issues that affect us now and in the future, including transportation, workforce and education.” Q: What significant changes will Harrisburg residents notice in the near future? A: “As the population continues to grow, they will see more developments and amenities. The N.C. rail project will have a major impact on Harrisburg – short-term disruption on commuter routes and traffic flow. Long-term, the project will encourage more positive projects, like the extension of Caldwell Road, and improve connectivity with bridges over the railroad tracks. It will also spur other developments like retail, commercial and mixed-use developments.” Q: How specifically will Harrisburg capitalize on its proximity to Charlotte, University City and the interstates, and how big of a role does that play in the implementation of the economic development plan? A: “Also part of the economic development strategic plan is the need to develop partnerships in areas that will move the town forward. This includes building key relationships with individuals and organizations in Charlotte, University City, at the state level and throughout the region. It’s important for Harrisburg to be aware of developments in surrounding areas and incorporate those developments into our strategic vision.”
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
Anna Lu Wilson discusses Harrisburg’s future, hurdles and strengths
About Harrisburg’s economic development plan at http://www.harrisburgnc.org/EconomicDevelopment/Welcome.aspx. Harrisburg Economic Development Committee members are Chad Baucom, Steve Sciascia, Brian Leepard and David Isaacs. Meetings are 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Harrisburg Town Hall, 4100 Main St. Anna Lu Wilson can be reached at 704-957-1418.
Johnson: 704-786-2185 Johnson: 704-786-2185
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