Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fixing Hickory - “What Will Catawba County’s Economic Climate and Demographics Look Like in 2020”?

Presentation by Taylor Dellinger of the Western Piedmont Council of Government during the Intra-City on 10/1/2009.

This is not the Hickory Economic Perspective. This is a look at the future. What do we want to see in the year 2020. Taylor went over projections that have been laid out by the state, local planners, and the Department of Commerce. They are projections for the purpose of planning and discussion.

Taylor mentioned a Quote from John Glenn -
People are afraid of the future, of the unknown. If a man faces up to it, and takes the dare of the future, he can have some control over his destiny. That’s an exciting idea to me, better than waiting with everybody else to see what’s going to happen.
from Charles Kettering -
“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there”
John Buchan -
We can pay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves.
Abraham Lincoln -
The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
Tennessee Williams -
“The future is called 'perhaps,' which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.”
Taylor states that decisions that are made today can effect the community 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. Think about decisions made 5 or 10 years ago and how they are having an effect on what we see today. Think about the decisions to be made in the next year or two and how they may effect the community 5, 10, or 15 years down the road.

Taylor states that what he is showing is not data, which are the present and the past. These are projections. These are possible outcomes, not the outcome. Based on the status quo and demographers see going on with population, employment, education, or industry, this is the best guess for today. They can be wrong. State projections for population, done in 1990, look like they will be 15% to 20% off. These are guesses.

Population for the year 2010, shows an estimate from the State that Catawba County will have a population of 159,000. Taylor believes that estimate will be a little high. The census for the year 2020, shows a Catawba County population estimate of 180,175. That would be growth of 16%. The number is based on birth rates, death rates, and in migration.

The Unifour (Hickory MSA) population numbers show an estimate of 361,000 for 2010 and the projection for 2020 would take us to 410,000. This number includes Catawba, Alexander, Burke, and Caldwell Counties.

Catawba County should have the highest growth rate of any of the counties in the Metro area, through the year 2020. The State shows a growth rate of 1.3% per year between 2008 and 2020. Population projections, for the state, are expected to be around 1.8%. A lot of this will depend on in migration - people moving into the area. In the 1990's we saw rapid population growth, spurred by job growth. Without job growth, the population growth will be less. The two are clearly related.

The fastest growing part of the state is the Piedmont Crescent between Charlotte and Raleigh. There has also been rapid growth in Wilmington and somewhat in Asheville. The largest metro areas have been growing rapidly. Catawba County has been growing rapidly compared to the rest our MSA.

Where is the growth likely to occur? Most of the housing growth appears to be located along the Catawba River, because of quality of life issues. Local Planners (WPCOG) use Track Analysis Zones, where land is divided up along roads and calculations of current population numbers and employment numbers are factored in. Then the planning staffs of the 28 local governments, in the region, are asked about their expectations of what they expect to happen in the future (such as 2035), in terms of housing growth and employment growth.

Southeast Catawba County looks to have the greatest opportunity for growth. Taylor surmises that this is because of the opening of four lane Highway 16 to Charlotte, which will be finished right along Anderson Mountain Road. Another factor includes the proximity to Lake Norman. After Hwy 16 is opened, it will only take approximately 35-40 minutes to get to uptown Charlotte or 20 to 25 minutes to Charlotte's outer loop. That opens up an opportunity for people to live in this area of Catawba County and work in Mecklenburg County.

There are many jobs that are starting to locate along the 321 corridor, near the Target Distribution Center. We also expect to see employment growth develop around the Eco-Complex. Housing growth associated with these developments is expected to take place around the Mountain View area. Housing Growth will not take place around the southern part of the county, because it is mainly zoned business, industrial, and commercial.

Population Density is currently (2007) around Hickory, Newton, and Conover. The future shows that growth will mainly take place in Northeast Hickory, Mountain View, and Newton.

Age Demographic distribution shows that the 65+ age demographic is growing more rapidly than any other population sector in the metro. Baby Boomers are getting older and more retirees are moving into the area. What we really need to see is balance.

Taylor's charts showed that the fastest growing ethnic population was Hispanics from 2000 to 2007. The State is showing that from 2008 to 2013 this trend will continue.

Job distribution numbers show that in 1990, 56% of jobs were in Manufacturing, 20% services. As of 2009, Manufacturing was down to 28%, services 47%. We are transitioning to a service based economy. manufacturing will still be important to the area. 2016 estimates show manufacturing at 21% and service sector jobs at 53%. All of this follows the national trend. Right now we have 143,000 jobs in our region and projections show 155,000 to 157,000 jobs, in the region, by 2016.

Possible Jobs and Industries of the future were talked about and Taylor said that he encourages everyone to look at the WPCOG report titled Western Piedmont Industrial Growth Analysis Update 2009.

Taylor next talked about where future employment will occur. In 2007, jobs were located near the strong retail service hub related to Valley Hills Mall and Wal-Mart in Hickory. There is also a little growth along Hwy 321, Hwy 127, and Conover-Claremont. Future employment growth will occur in Southeast Catawba County and it looks to be service related. Hwy 70 and Fairgrove Church Road look like they will continue growing for the foreseeable future. Many people in this region of the county are currently working out of their homes.

The Hickory Hound has delved into all of these issues going back to last year:
This Ain't Podunkville Anymore

There are many factors at play in these tumultuous times, but I have learned during my life, that most of the time your life is predestined by the decisions that you make. You may find this totally irrelevant, but 20 years ago and then 10 years ago, I made decisions to make Hickory my home for life so that I could be near my family and the comfort of the familiar surroundings it afforded. You know, a lot of people tell me that that was a mistake and honestly it probably was, but I am here and I want things to get better. Hickory has to start laying out a game plan towards prosperity or there will be none.

What you cannot see, because I don't have access to Taylor's maps so I can post them, is that there is Economic and Population growth happening down Grace Chapel Road, out towards St. Stephens and Springs road, in Mountain View and South of there, east through Conover, Claremont, and Catawba, and out towards Sherrill's Ford and in the Southeastern part of the county. What one can also see is the Big Black Hole of growth in the Proper boundaries of the City of Hickory. Why is that?

Hickory has to be the driver of the region, but what we are seeing is that commercially only the Valley Hills Mall-WalMart area and a little slice of Viewmont are growing within Hickory Proper. We need to see other parts of Hickory become viable again or we will continue to see the "Black Hole" implosion in the City of Hickory that has been going on for years.

You can't ignore these entry points into Hickory that show blight and are increasingly becoming saturated with what looks to be gang activity. It will eventually completely destroy this city.

When one comes into Hickory at the junction of Hwy 321 and Hwy 70, then one sees rundown areas accessibly in view. When a person travels down Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard towards Lenoir-Rhyne University and views Highland Avenue, then once again their vision is submersed in blight. Isn't it time that we see some action on this issue? Do we really need to hear why we can't fix these areas? Is it that we can't or is it that we won't? Because if we don't start dealing with these issues, they will soon begin dealing with us!!!


Anonymous said...

It seems like we are just moving to a "Police State" whether it is federal agents auditing for no reason or random unconstitutional DWI checkpoints. We will eventually run out of money when everyone is working for the state or federal government. If you were re-locating a business, what would make you choose Hickory over another city? That is really the question and what could we offer without dealing with the concessions that Winston Salem had to deal with and now has 1200 total workers unemployed? All of this is a war on the middle class. We are so worried about getting rid of poverty and helping out other "Oil nations" that we are destroying our middle class and we are observing that first hand here now.

Anonymous said...

One of your key issues over the last year is that Hickory must lead the growth in the unifour region. I am inclined to ask why? It is obvious from your information and the information from multiple other sources that the real growth, leadership and energy are outside of Hickory. I would contend that if anything hickory is a dead weight on regional growth. Any real growth is happening outside the city limits and any fight to change that is wasted energy. Ignore Hickory and let the rest of the region move on

James Thomas Shell said...

Nice to see someone more pessimistic than myself. Makes me feel a little more mainstream.

I'd like to see us tear down a lot of these blighted building and recycle what materials we can out of them. I know that is a lot more novel that the turn and burn development we have seen over the last century in this country, but it has been done before. Some of the new classically designed baseball stadiums, like the one in San Diego. It is built amongst old warehouses with bricks that were originally from those warehouses.

I would much rather see open spaces than dilapidation. I can't see why people want to hold onto properties that are falling into disrepair. The only two reasons that I can see this happening are either bad logic or bad law. One or the other or both needs to be fixed.

James Thomas Shell said...

Anonymous 2. I think you might be right. Let Hickory fail and then we can pick up the pieces when it naturally comes around.

I don't think everyone in the city wants to see this, but we are obviously outgunned and it would be better to put our energies elsewhere and just go ahead and let the powers that be take the city in the direction they are going to take it. If they are so smart, then things should work out wonderfully and if not, oh well, we will be trying to clean up the mess for a couple of generations - and I'll be dead by then anyway.