Cabarrus Conversations: Concord City Manager Brian Hiatt
Q: Concord is one of the fastest growing cities in NC and currently ranks as the 12th largest city in population and 7th in land area. What are some key motivators for industries and businesses locating to the city?
A: Quality of life ranks at the top of the list. Over the years, we’ve diversified our economic base and deliberately grew beyond just neighborhood retailers. We built a strong infrastructure that we continue to invest in, and we offer an excellent school system, a strong arts council and expanded parks and greenways. Concord is also unique because the core of our city is preserved and we have a historic and vibrant downtown with few vacancies. It’s exciting for us to be able to offer a variety of restaurants, amenities and housing.
Q: What are some of Concord’s competitive advantages in terms of recruiting industry and business?
A: We’ve put lot of resources into making sure we have adequate water, sewer and electric utilities to accommodate future growth and offer a healthy competitive environment. A partnership between Albemarle and Kannapolis is allowing us to bring in an additional 10 million gallons of water per day. Concord also offers a diverse manufacturing workforce, as well as economic development grants to help us attract businesses to the area. Being close to Charlotte, a major metropolitan area with an international airport, also is a great advantage. We’re also proud to offer competitive tax, electric and water rates.
Q: The Concord Regional Airport is a true asset for the area. What sort of growth and expansion has the airport seen over the past few years and what’s in store for the future?
A: Airport use has transitioned over the last couple of years to offer three types of aviation service: corporations, such as NASCAR race teams and S&D Coffee & Tea, operating their own planes, charter services and commercial services through Allegiant Air. We’ve applied for a federal grant to help expand the airport’s commercial offerings and the new commercial service terminal building should be under construction by the end of the year. Being able to offer more commercial flights will be a tremendous resource for the county.
Q: Can you share any updates on the ongoing road improvements?
A: We’ve spent more money in Cabarrus County on road and transportation improvements in the last couple of years than we ever have in the county’s history – from the expansion of the George Liles Parkway to the widening of I-85, with more projects underway. Concord has aggressively leveraged dollars from the state by adding our own local money, which has helped our transportation projects, such as Exit 49 improvements, rank higher on the state’s priority list. We also use this fund for local transportation projects.
Q: The City of Concord has enjoyed a great working relationship with the International Business Park, partnering with the developer to attract many international companies to the city. Now that the park is filling up, what other options do businesses have when considering relocating to Concord?
A: There are numerous available sites and buildings with different price points that are attractive to future employers. Along the George Liles Parkway, we have land zoned for business, including office development, while the Concord Airport Business Park, Oakmont Business Park and others have opportunities for industrial development. In addition to industrial and office space that’s well-suited for commercial development and retail, we also offer opportunities for residential growth.
Q: How does the city’s Land Use Plan fit with future growth?
A: We’ll be updating the plan starting early next year. It’s been a great tool to help guide land development and make sure our growth is strategic. Because of the strong urge for residential growth, we’re trying to focus growth in areas where our utility system won’t get over burdened. We have a lot of room accommodate growth within the existing city limits.
Q: What role do partnerships play in successful economic development?
A: Working with city, county and regional partners to help attract and retain business is crucial. We’re fortunate to have strong relationships with a number of organizations, including Cabarrus Economic Development, Concord Downtown Development Corporation and Cabarrus County Chamber of Commerce. We all collaborate together to help identify the best ways to grow, preserve and develop our city.