It has been almost two months since William “Tracy” Jackson’s first day as Lincoln County’s new county manager. Hired in early August by a unanimous vote of approval by the Board of Commissioners, he was chosen to replace George Wood, who retired at the end of June. Gaston College’s Lincoln Campus will welcome the county’s new leader at an event on Oct. 29. Both Jackson
and the Lincoln County Family YMCA’s new executive director, Bart Cape, will be honored. Those interested in attending should go to the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce website
for more details. Since starting the job Sept. 4, Jackson has made significant progress in acclimating to
his new role and preparing for the Board of Commissioners December Budget Planning Retreat. He said he feels the transition has been easier due to the similar issues and culture both Iredell, where Jackson previously held a post in county administration, and Lincoln County face. “Iredell County has a large community on the lake that is rapidly growing,” said Jackson. “The county seat is in the
center of that county, and then there’s a rural northern part. So it’s very similar to Lincolnton in that you’ve got your lake, your county seat, and then a rural part.” A North Carolina native, Jackson is originally from Raleigh. Although he spent his childhood in Jacksonville, Fla., he returned to North Carolina to become a paramedic. “I started working in 1988 in county government as a paramedic and then over the years have advanced and moved into different positions in county government,” said Jackson.
Jackson explained that as county manager, he is in charge of creating the budget to present to the commissioners and ensuring it is followed accordingly. His responsibilities also include overseeing the administration of the day-to-day operations of the county government.
Jackson believes planning for growth and development is currently the biggest challenge.
“In my experience, you want to try to be proactive,” said Jackson. “If growth gets too far ahead of you, it becomes difficult to catch up with supplying different services and needs within the community.”
While the county is working on several special projects, Jackson is most looking forward to the development of an active lifestyle community, Shea Homes.
“They’re looking at 615 homes on several hundred acres with about 300 of those being for single families,” said Jackson. “But the majority of them would be for 55 and older.”
In addition to increasing the residential population, Jackson also stresses the importance of continuing to maintain and develop the business climate here.
“We’re always looking for new businesses to come in, so we try our best to make it as inviting as possible for those new businesses,” said Jackson
The county manager finds Lincolnton possesses a significant amount of natural attraction due to its proximity to major cities such as Charlotte and to the Queen City’s international airport. Lincoln County is also home to its own private airport as well.
Jackson adds that Lincoln’s excellent water and sewer infrastructure makes it much easier for current businesses to grow and expand as well as attract new businesses.
Although the county boasts a number of attractive qualities, Jackson is concerned with the recruitment and retention of government employees.
“We anticipate a lot of retirements in the near future, so I think there’s a potential for loss of great experience and knowledge when those folks leave,” said Jackson. “So, we have to figure out how to recruit the people that can help fill those voids in the future as well as how we are going to retain the folks that we have. It’s very competitive out there in county government when it comes to hiring.”
By analyzing the future voids in departments and determining which positions are currently in high demand across the region, Jackson feels this loss can be circumvented.