UNION — An initiative that seeks public comment on the future of a region that encompasses 14 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina moved a step forward Friday with a meeting involving several local officials.
CONNECT Our Future is an initiative that deals with the future growth of a 14-county region that includes the North Carolina counties of Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union, and the South Carolina counties of Chester, Lancaster, Union, and York. The region’s population is projected to grown by 50 percent in 20 years and to double within 40 years and the goal of CONNECT Our Future is to develop plans that will enable the region to successfully cope with and benefit from such growth.
To help develop those plans, the initiative seeks the views of the residents, businesses, educators, government leaders and other groups in the 14-county region. A series of meetings and open houses have been scheduled and are taking place throughout the region to solicit those views.
One of those meetings was held Friday afternoon at the City of Union Municipal Building and involved members of Union City Council, Union County Council, the Union County Chamber of Commerce, and the Union County Development Board. During the meeting, an overview of the initiative was provided by representatives of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments and the Lee Institute who then facilitated discussion in a small group setting.
“This is one of the community engagement opportunities,” Robert Moody, senior planner with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, said. “This was an opportunity to get input from residents through discussion and a survey about what matters for the future.”
Moody said the initiative grew out of previous collaboration between the region’s North Carolina and South Carolina councils of government.
“The two basic common denominators are the councils of government for the region,” Moody said. “I work for the Catawba Regional Council of Governments which includes the four South Carolina counties of Union, York, Chester and Lancaster. The other is the Centralia Council of Governments and its 10 counties in North Carolina.
“There’s been bi-state regional efforts over the past two decades,” he said. “The most recent effort that proceeded CONNECT Our Future was called CONNECT. It included the same geographic area so this is not a new concept.”
While large and diverse, Moody said the region is connected economically.
“The basic connection is the Charlotte economic center and the economics of the region ties the area together,” Moody said. “It links urban Charlotte with the suburban ring that includes cities like Rock Hill and Gastonia and rural communities like Union and Lincoln.”
Moody said the economic interconnectedness of the region means that all of its constituent communities will be affected as growth occurs and why it is so important that all involve themselves in the CONNECT Our Future and help develop the plans for dealing with that growth. He urged the residents of Union County to attend the CONNECT Our Future open house that will be held at the Union County Advanced Technology Center on February 28 to learn more about the initiative and take the opportunity to contribute to the planning for the region’s future.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.