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Happy trails, Charlotte region
Carolina Thread Trail has new leader
 
Published Monday, April 28, 2014 10:01 am
by Ronnie Bryant, Charlotte Regional Partnership

It doesn’t get much better than springtime in Charlotte USA. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, it’s an ideal time to go outside and enjoy all that this region has to offer, including the Carolina Thread Trail. While still a work in progress, the CTT will be one of the longest regional trail systems in the country, spanning some 1,500 miles through the Carolinas. Not only is this one-of-a-kind amenity great for the environment and people’s health, it’s also a useful economic development tool.  

Charlottean Karl Froelich, a longtime corporate executive with a passion for the outdoors, is CTT’s new director and is spearheading several initiatives to hasten its progress. He’s focusing on building at least five continuous miles of trails in each of the CTT’s 15 counties over the next five years, as well as finishing the 140-mile “North-South spine,” which runs from Iredell County, N.C., to Chester County, S.C.

Froelich says long, interconnected nature trails help create destination points and spark development such as restaurants, shops, parks and other attractions that drive people to the area and boost real estate values. “It improves the region’s quality of life and brings economic vitality,” he says. A great example of this is the renovated Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Part of the CTT, Little Sugar Creek is a prized amenity in the uptown area, connecting parks, Central Piedmont Community College and the Metropolitan, an upscale mixed-use development. Froelich says he envisions the CTT spurring similar development in other parts of the region, serving as an important resource for tourism and helping convince more people to relocate here.   

Currently about 135 miles of the CTT are open. A great section to explore is the 15-mile Ridgeline Trail, which links the Carolinas, four counties (Gaston, Cleveland, York, and Cherokee), as well as Kings Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain National Military Park, and Crowders Mountain State Park, all of which are great destinations for rock climbing, hiking, and biking. See you outside!

The Jerry Awards

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available for the 2014 Jerry Awards Luncheon, scheduled for May 20. We expect more than 1,000 of the area’s top business and community leaders to attend this high-profile event, during which we’ll recognize organizations that have made significant, ongoing contributions to economic development in Charlotte USA. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show your support for the 16-county region and make valuable connections with others in the community. This year’s award recipients are Time Warner Cable and Electric Power Research Institute. The awards will be at the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom, starting with a networking session at 11 a.m., followed by the awards ceremony at noon. For details go to crpjerryawards.com or contact Marianne Blankenship at mblankenship@charlotteusa.com or (704) 347-6581. 

High-tech competition

I firmly believe competition breeds excellence, and Charlotte USA is in the fortunate position of having two giant Internet providers competing to bring a lightning-fast fiber data network to the area.

Just two months after Google selected Charlotte as a potential site for its high-speed Internet and TV service, AT&T announced last week that it’s looking to bring its “GigaPower” service here. Local advocates say such projects would boost the area’s high-tech infrastructure and attract innovative entrepreneurs and companies that need to transfer large amounts of data. Installing this kind of network is a major construction project, and both AT&T and Google have indicated they plan to work with local officials to see if the project is feasible, including details involving regulatory approvals, inspections and permits. AT&T is targeting up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide for its fiber network, including Atlanta, Augusta, Chicago, Houston and Greensboro.

Earlier this month N.C. Next Generation Networks, a cooperative effort of universities and their host communities in the Research Triangle area, recommended that six city governments approve AT&T's GigaPower proposal. Google has ultra-high-speed fiber networks in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City and is building a network in Austin. Like AT&T, it’s also targeting other metropolitan regions, such as Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, and Atlanta. While AT&T is still in the preliminary stages of exploring the Charlotte market, Google plans to have all its research and planning finalized by May and announce which cities have been selected for the network by the end of the year.

A superlative site

North Carolina received the Silver Shovel Award from Area Development Site and Facility Planning, a trade publication,for its many groundbreaking and expansion projects that created a significant number of new jobs and capital investment.

Many of these projects were in Charlotte USA, including MetLife, Electrolux, Red Ventures, and Gildan. In addition, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area ranked 39th in the trade publication’s annual “100 Leading Locations” report, while ranking 11th for economic strength, 23rd for year over year growth, and 61st for recession busting cities. The trade publication will highlight all its annual Economic Development Awards winners in its Q2 issue.  

Fore!

Some 3,000 people are expected to attend the Wells Fargo Championship, which kicks off today at Quail Hollow Club. Launched in 2003, the PGA tournament is one of Charlotte’s most noted signature events, and this year’s lineup of competitors includes such top players as Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, and last year’s Wells Fargo winner Derek Ernst.

In addition to a great sporting event, the Wells Fargo Championship is also a prominent economic development opportunity, and I hope to see you there this weekend for the final rounds.

Ronnie Bryant is CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

 

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