Get Ready Gaston 2019

Forum for elected officials addresses preparing for growth

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In the small photo below are: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance CEO Janet LaBar, left, with Belmont Abbey College President William Thierfelder, Atrium Health Director of Community Engagement and Corporate Responsibility Emily Wilson, and Atrium Health Vice President of Carolinas Rehabilitation Mount Holly Peter Cassidy.

Gaston elected officials meet on preparing for growth 

More than 100 elected officials, economic development professionals and business and community leaders attended the third annual Get Ready Gaston Forum on Preparing for Growth at Belmont Abbey College on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Candidates for elective office also were invited.

The forum is a public service project coordinated by the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with sponsor Atrium Health. The objective is to help Gaston County leaders prepare for projected rapid growth here stemming from Charlotte’s development to the west.

The first Get Ready Gaston in 2017 focused on learning from counties such as York and Union, how they have been impacted in recent years by Charlotte’s growth. The 2018 forum focused on learning about developments in Charlotte that will impact Gaston County. Topics included expansion plans for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the River District project, community health issues and the potential for bringing light rail beyond the airport into Gaston County.

Light rail, the plans for which now include Gaston County, was a major topic on the agenda for Get Ready Gaston 2019. Charlotte Area Transit CEO John Lewis and CATS Senior Transportation Planner Jason Lawrence were the presenters. “Integrated Development: How the Next Generation of Workers is Impacting Economic Development” was addressed by Kathleen Rose, CEO of Rose & Associates SE. Pamela Atwood of the NC Housing Coalition spoke on “Workforce Housing: Preserving Diverse Communities Amid Rising Home Prices.”

Three presenters associated with TechWorks of Gaston County presented on “Developing An Entrepreneur Ecosystem.” They included TechWorks Executive Director Terry Cox, Alan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Open Broadband, which started at TechWorks and is connecting underserved communities with high-speed wireless internet service, and John Robinson, CEO of Wellzesta, a Belmont-based wellness software company helping senior citizens across the country maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Janet LaBar, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, was the speaker at a luncheon concluding the forum, which took place in the Haid Theater and Ballroom at Belmont Abbey College.

 From left, John Robinson, Alan Fitzpatrick and Terry Cox during their presentation at “Get Ready Gaston.”

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