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Economic summit shows growth in Cabarrus County

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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — The Cabarrus County Chamber of Commerce held its Annual State of the Region Summit.

Chamber members along with city leaders across the Charlotte region gathered at Concord Mills Tuesday, to discuss where the Cabarrus County economy stands.

Mayors from five Cabarrus County cities all had good news to share at summit.

"Hawthorne is a new development right off of Robinson Church Road and we're still under construction and issuing permits for construction of housing," said Harrisburg Mayor Tim Hagler.

The growth includes housing and business development projects to much needed upgrades to public safety buildings and major roads.

"Our ship has finally come in, over $200 million worth of improvements," said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.

However some of the fastest growth is occuring just outside the county line at UNC Charlotte.

"We're trying to expand the reach of the university to the larger community to include of course Cabarrus," said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois.

He reported record enrollment numbers with a student population at more than 26,000. Dubois said 43 percent of the students are from Cabarrus County, and projections show 80 percent of overall graduates will be able to find jobs locally.

"It will vary a little bit by area and there's some areas now like energy and informatics that are emerging, healthcare emerging stronger in this region," said Dubois.

Industries are attracting investors to the area, according to Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation CEO John Cox.
 
"UNC Charlotte makes a lot of that innovative, energy, bio-tech, life sciences opportunities for us, that makes it real," said Cox.

But with the unemployment rate in Cabarrus County hanging around 8.6 percent, Cox said there is more work that needs to be done.

"This is with us for a long time and we're going to have to find new and creative ways around it. It's not just old style business and job creation and we're all going to ave to weather it together," said Cox.

Cox said he projects continued growth in 2013. North Carolina remains the fifth most unemployed state in the country.

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