Local advocacy group keeps eye on Union recovery

Local business leaders continue to work hard to keep the economic ball rolling in Union County as the impact of the recession begins to fade for some industries. Though numerous challenges still remain.

Many of the manufacturing companies involved with the Union County Chamber of Commerce are doing well, according to chamber president Pat Kahle. But those companies are still working to find enough skilled employees for their trade, Kahle added.

The chamber and pro-growth group Monroe-Union County Economic Development are working to support local businesses and bring others to Union County, but they see the hurdles that remain for the area’s economy. Certain local sectors are still struggling, something the Monroe-Union County Economic Development organization’s economic development plan points out.

“Currently, there are micro-economies within Union County that are doing well, while other areas remain under economic strain,” the plan reads. “This fiscal disparity is inherent in the incredible diversity that exists within this community.”

Most of the industrial development is in Monroe, with Indian Trail, Stallings and Marshville also contributing, the report indicated. Productive agricultural areas exist from Fairview to Marshville and toward the state line.

Monroe-Union County Economic Development was formed in 2013 to advocate for area towns in business issues, while an additional group, the Alliance of South Charlotte Communities, was recently started to advocate for Indian Trail, Matthews, Mint Hill and Stallings’ economic interests.

Kahle expects the efforts of such groups to benefit the county’s economy in the near future.

“The downturn in 2008 had such a negative impact on businesses,” she said. “Only in the most recent year to two years have we begun to see a positive trend in the economy.”

But that doesn’t mean businesses should expect things to go back to the way they were in the early 2000s. The impact of the recession on business practices and spending won’t fade any time soon, Kahle said.

“We have to remember, pre-2008 growth is much different than growth in 2014…” she said. “I think we are certainly beyond the tough, tough times of 2008 through 2012. I think what we have to do is look forward and not look back.

“Before 2008, I think that businesses tended to look at their growth in double digits. When I talk to business owners, they are doing more with much less.”

Kahle believes the lessons of the recession have led to manufacturers focusing on ways to grow without adding expenses, while economic groups such as the chamber continue to push for dollars being spent locally.

Meanwhile, Monroe-Union County Economic Development will concentrate on four areas: precision manufacturing, agri-business, logistics and commercial in an effort to curb the unemployment rate, according to the group’s plan.

 

Find more information on Monroe-Union County Economic Development at www.developunion.com. Find more information on the Union County Chamber of Commerce at www.unioncountycoc.com.

 

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Laura Edington

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