With all towns now on board, the bylaws approved and a $25,000 grant under its belt, the Alliance of South Charlotte Communities is ready to move forward and begin working on an economic development plan, members said.
The alliance, which includes Indian Trail, Stallings, Matthews and Mint Hill, was created in an effort to promote the four-town region to new businesses and possibly create a partnership between the municipalities. Creative Economic Development Consulting recently awarded the group a $25,000 grant to help kick start the effort and begin drafting some plans for the future. Although members of the alliance aren’t sure what the work with Creative Economic Development has in store, they are excited to move forward, leaders said.
“I think it’s a win-win for both parties,” said John Urban, the Matthews resident representative to the alliance and former Matthews commissioner. “We don’t know what’s going to come out of it. Obviously we have what our thoughts are and then we will have these people who do this all of the time come to the table with (their ideas).”
Creative Economic Development will work with the towns from April to November.
Plans for the group could be as simple as a website advertising the available properties and opportunities in each town or shared services such as trash pickup; or something as complex as a joint business park, much like the effort in north Mecklenburg between Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville. Members of the alliance hope the joint population of the four towns will add some power when negotiating for services provided by each town.
“We believe that by working together we can better plan our economic destiny,” Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said in a news release. “The four towns have a population of approximately 101,500, a highly educated work force and a significant median income base, which we believe gives us the unique ability to promote our region as the place to do business.”
Alliance representatives decided to apply for the grant from Creative Economic Development Consulting to bring in someone with a better idea of how to move forward. The consulting firm has worked with organizations of this nature in the past and will help the group identify possible road bumps it may see down the line.
“We want to bring some expertise in, and it’s someone who has worked with multi-jurisdictional projects before, and they can come in and guide us and tell us where the pitfalls are,” Jamie Justice, assistant Matthews town manager, said to Union County Weekly last month.
The Alliance of South Charlotte Communities began early last year when town leaders came together to discuss a way to promote the area for economic development, modeled after the partnership between Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius. The three north Mecklenburg towns partnered in the construction of a new business park where each town received tax revenue based on the amount of capital invested into the project.
“We want to find ways to help the quality of life in our communities and economic development and all of that,” Urban said.
The Alliance of South Charlotte Communities will meet the first week of every month, with the agenda for the next six months already focused on working with Creative Economic Development Consulting as a result of the grant. Representatives from the group hope to see a strategic plan developed, if nothing else, over the next six months.