Catawba county delivers on its promises
Appeared as a sponsored section in the February 2018 issue.
By Suzanne Woods
Scott Millar keeps two Wall Street Journal articles in his Hickory office. The first, from 1998, touts the region’s economic resilience. The second story came nearly two decades later — it’s about the city’s audacious bid for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters, nicknamed HQ2. The community at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains pitched Catawba County’s site as a blank slate with a big-city neighbor in Charlotte. Apple Inc. has already built a data center nearby — if Siri calls Catawba home, well, why not Alexa?
Although Hickory did not make Amazon’s short list, the proposal shows the county’s ability to work toward a common goal, says Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corp. “We worked alongside the county, Hickory, and the other cities and towns, chambers of commerce, workforce-development commissions and had the help of an engineering and design firm,” he says. “It was a coalescing of so many groups to get it done under a tough deadline.”
It’s an effort honed by practice when the county worked to recover from the recession of 2007-09. Now, the hard work is paying dividends in a revitalized furniture industry and booming medical and education initiatives made possible by many of the must-haves on Amazon’s list, including access to interstate highways, a large, low-cost power grid, and a robust labor supply……