CHERRYVILLE â€” The Cherryville City Council has hired economic development consultants in an attempt to keep its economy from worsening.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to make it work. We canâ€™t miss a step,â€ said Mayor Bob Austell of the cityâ€™s new economic development plan.
The city hired Electricities and Sandford Holshouser Business Development Group to map out a plan.
The two groups met with members of the city council, city officials and members of the Cherryville Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning to go over the consultantsâ€™ findings.
â€œEconomic development is a process, not an event,â€ said Crystal Morphis, managing partner of Sanford Holshouser Business Development Group. â€œItâ€™s a long range window so stay the course.â€
Morphis encouraged her audience to continue work with the cityâ€™s equestrian park. A 300-acre site has already been purchased a mile and a half outside of Cherryville.
The site would serve for horse shows as well as other sporting events. It may also hold up to eight athletic fields.
The equestrian park would bring tourist dollars to Cherryville and encourage the growth of business within the city.
â€œI think this could be one of those projects that could really transform your community if itâ€™s done right,â€ said Morphis.
Morphis also believes that Cherryvilleâ€™s small town atmosphere and vibrant downtown is working in its favor.
â€œI have enjoyed my work here,â€ said Morphis. â€œI think Cherryville has tremendous opportunity.â€
Morphis pointed out positive aspects of the city such as an increase in the number of people achieving higher levels of education, city leadership and good city services.
She also pointed out that Cherryville has a larger population growth than Gaston County.
City officials, however, are not impressed by this fact due to the low growth of Gaston County.
â€œWe feel these are weak numbers, inferior numbers,â€ said Austell. â€œWeâ€™re committed to growth.â€
The city is also committed to bringing in new industry. Cherryville could be the site of retirement facilities, recreation and sporting industries, factories and a state prison facility.
The city needs to court industry and dispel negative parts of its image said Morphis.
One of these factors is the view that Cherryville has problems with water shortages.
â€œThatâ€™s something the town has to be aware of,â€ said Morphis. â€œPerception often becomes reality.â€
The Cherryville City Council expressed their enthusiasm for economic development and told those attending the presentation that they were committed to growth.
â€œWeâ€™re going to work with you,â€ said Austell. â€œWeâ€™re going to cooperate with you.â€by Sarah Grano