Cabarrus Conversations: Concord Mayor Bill Dusch
His father, Frank, paved the political way when he joined the city’s planning and zoning committee and later become an alderman. Years later, Dusch began serving on the planning and zoning committee and co-founded the company Technologies Edge, which was hired to build the city’s IT infrastructure.
Transition from Business Owner to Mayor
“It was quite a change to go from a contracted director to mayor of the city, but at the same time, I know all the departments and how they operate,” Dusch said. “The city is like 25 different companies rolled up into one and I’ve been involved with nearly all of them.”
The transition was about “95 percent seamless,” Dusch said. While things like budget and financial statements are “second nature” to him, there was still a learning curve. “The city got a new mayor and two new councilmembers at the same time; it was 72 years of seniority that either retired or changed.”
Search for a New City Manager
One of those retirements is Brian Hiatt, who is leaving his City Manager position in April after nearly 20 years. During the first two months of his mayoral role, Dusch said his number one priority was selecting Hiatt’s replacement. The national search process began last fall, before Dusch took office. This week, the Concord City Council announced Lloyd Payne will take the helm as City Manager, after serving as Assistant City Manager since May 2015.
“We really wanted the new city manager to be in place by early March, so the person could shadow Brian before he retires,” he said. “Brian even offered to delay his retirement by a month, which shows you how well we worked together to get this critical position filled.”
2030 Land Use Plan: A Guide Growth
Another priority is the 2030 Land Use Plan, a tool to guide growth and redevelopment for the city. “The plan serves as the official vision and the basis for land redevelopment, rezoning, special use permits and historic preservation,” Dusch said.
Parks and Greenways
Another component of the land use plan that Dusch says is “near and dear” to him is parks and greenways. “We have a lot of nice parks and greenways, but how do we get them all together?” he said. “We’re currently undergoing a study on connecting the neighborhoods throughout the city and making sure the parks and greenways serve all parts of the city.”
Dusch added, “As we continue to expand the city, it’s very important we prepare – not to build the parks today, but to get the land. We need to start the acquisition and right-of-way process so when the funds become available to actually build facilities and greenways, we are ready to go.”
Express Bus Service
Dusch said he’s also looking forward to the new Concord-Charlotte express regional bus service that’s launching in March. The service will be run by Rider Transit, Concord and Kannapolis and in partnership with CATS and the City of Charlotte.
“It will be a great and unique asset for the community because it will provide all-day, seven days a week access to and from Charlotte,” he said. “This will give our residents and visitors even more employment, medical, entertainment and educational options.”
No Rest for the “Best”
A recent CEO survey ranked North Carolina #3 for business, and Money magazine named Concord the best place to live in the state. These accolades come as no surprise to Dusch. “To us, we all know Concord is the best place to live, but maybe the rest of the world didn’t know it,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of good things and we’re very proud, but we cannot rest.”
Dusch noted the continuation of strong leadership and statewide collaboration will help ensure the city continues to move in a positive direction.
“The great relationships we have are key to what’s happening. All of the entities support each other – Cabarrus County, Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cabarrus Economic Development, Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Concord and Charlotte Regional Partnership,” he said.
An All-Time Favorite Race
In addition to being active with the community and serving as a nonprofit advocate, Dusch and his wife, Debbie, are avid runners and recently completed marathons in all 50 states (a 20-year quest for him, 12 years for her).
While his race for mayor may be his favorite win yet, Dusch notes that it’s teamwork, not individual successes, that make a city thrive. “We all have to work together. The government can’t do it alone, individuals can’t do it alone, and industry can’t do it alone.”