The Charlotte metro area is a huge asset of the state of North Carolina. Between metro Charlotte and metro Raleigh, the state has two fast growing assets that we should take pride in. Like a beautiful perennial, if nurtured these assets will provide much beauty to the state in terms of jobs and tax revenue.
Yet, as a citizen of Charlotte, I witness the state of South Carolina taking full advantage of the metro Charlotte asset given our proximity to the border.
The state has been forthright in their actions to grow two major areas – the Greenville/ Spartanburg corridor down I-85 and northern South Carolina just beneath the state line. Cities like Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Tega Cay and even Chester are seeing growth because of this leverage.
Using the census data from 2010, we can expect to see the following growth from 2012 projected to 2017. If this data were updated, I think we would see even more progress.
- State of South Carolina is projected to grow in population by 7.3%
- State of North Carolina is projected to grow in population by 8.3%
Yet, if you look at North Carolina population centers in metro Charlotte, the data shows much higher growth.
- Charlotte is projected to grow at 14.9%
- Mecklenburg County is projected to grow at 15.1%
- Union County is projected to grow at 17.4%
- Iredell and Cabarrus Counties are projected to grow at 10.3% and 13.7%
However, across the border in South Carolina, the following growth rates are projected.
- Fort Mill at 14.9%
- Rock Hill at 14.3%
- Tega Cay at 15.6%
- York County at 14.9%
- Lancaster County at 14.9%
Since these projections were done back in 2012, northern South Carolina has taken off even more with Indian Land and Fort Mill attracting more new business down from Charlotte and Chester attracting new business, as well, even though it is 30 miles south. And, Rock Hill has been doing redevelopment along the river.
The reasons why are telling – better schools, affordable nice homes, better gas prices and proximity to Charlotte and its airport. Access to the LYNX light rail station also helps, where the parking is easy off South Boulevard.
Since north Charlotte is so congested, people do not want to deal with that commute. Making a toll road on I-77 to solve the problem is not a judicious use of money as it just would delay the problem a few years. Iredell County is not expected to grow as fast as the South Carolina counties. It would behoove them to join together with Davidson, Mooresville and Huntersville and push for a light rail parallel to I-77.
So, while our leaders in Raleigh don’t provide the necessary support leveraging this important resource and are throwing money and goodwill away with a toll road, South Carolina will continue to build off the metro Charlotte asset. And, that tax revenue will be spent south of the border and not in Raleigh.
Keith Wilson, Charlotte, Independent, Board Member and former Board Chair of several homeless services agencies, Retired Benefits Consultant, former actuary and former director of compensation and benefits for a Fortune 500 company.