Mecklenburg commissioners take first step on economic development plan

06/26/2014 6:55 PM

06/27/2014 7:34 AM

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners took initial steps Thursday toward creating a strategic plan for economic development.

At a daylong retreat at the Foundation for the Carolinas, the board discussed ways to attract and retain business.

Jeanette Goldsmith, an economic development consultant and president of Goldsmith Strategy, led a conversation on how the county can promote tourism, workforce development, and arts and culture. Commissioners also discussed how to attract new businesses, develop small businesses and support existing companies.

Board Chairman Trevor Fuller explained the goal of the strategic plan for economic development: “People will be able to look at it and say, ‘OK, this is where Mecklenburg County is going,’ and they can see where they fit in.”

County Manager Dena Diorio said after the framework is laid, the next steps will include hiring at least one staff member dedicated to economic development, hopefully by late fall.

The retreat represents a renewed effort by the county to create a clearer plan for promoting economic development. Commissioners said that in most areas they weren’t sure what the county’s role is or should be.

Assistant County Manager Leslie Johnson said commissioners had always been unclear on the county’s role because there has never been a defined program.

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