Matthews approves economic alliance, waits for others

Efforts to create a joint economic organization made up of towns situated along the Mecklenburg-Union county border are moving forward after Matthews and Indian Trail approved the group’s bylaws during meetings last week.

The Alliance of South Charlotte Communities partnership, which also includes Mint Hill and Stallings, will seek to secure new businesses and infrastructure projects for the area that could benefit all four towns. Group leadership will eventually consist of one elected official from each town in addition to each town manager and one additional representative from the four parties. Stallings is currently seeking a new town manager.

Partnership leaders are asking Mint Hill and Stallings to now approve the bylaws, and for each town to provide $4,000 initially to fund the group. Each town will have to approve any further financial contributions to the alliance, according to former Matthews commissioner John Urban, who has worked on the effort since discussions began a year ago.

“We have spent a year with the very stakeholders going through this, and we see a lot of potential,” Urban said. “The idea was to pony up a little bit of money and to spend the next year and to see which of these items is viable.”

Council members and commissioners from Mint Hill and Stallings recently said they wanted more time for newly elected officials to review the bylaws and make any tweaks they felt necessary before moving forward. Council and board members also raised some concerns during the Dec. 9 Stallings meeting and Dec. 12 Mint Hill meeting about the lack of an escape clause that would allow the towns to ease their commitments to the group if it was ever
decided the initiative was not in the best interest of a town.

“Upon receiving (information on the partnership), there’s a lot of red marks on each page, and I think that it would be in the best interest of Stallings to get some answers and definitions to each of these questions,” Stallings councilmember Regis Griffin said during the meeting.

Leaders in Mint Hill agree.

“We want to make sure the bylaws and everything are OK and that we aren’t getting into something we can’t get back out of,” Mint Hill commissioner Lloyd Austin said. “If we decide to get out of it, we can get out of it without any other obligations.”

Talks of creating the partnership began last year when the four towns met to discuss the possibility of teaming up for a project that could benefit all four economically. The efforts could include partnering for general services offered by each town like garbage and waste disposal or a large-scale commercial project, much like the business park built through a similar alliance between Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson in north Mecklenburg County.

“What we are trying to accomplish is to put a little more meat on the table from an economic standpoint,” Urban said. “We will have a lot more in the economic fight if we join forces to brand the region of south Charlotte communities. We all have very unique identities, but also are similar.”

To properly fund an economic push of this nature, Urban said a town would have to put in about $200,000 – something that isn’t plausible for a town the size of Matthews, at roughly 27,000 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census. Mint Hill, at 22,700, and Stallings, at 13,800, also are small, while Indian Trail is the largest of the four – at 33,500.

But regardless of town size, the aim of the partnership is to make economic gains for all four.

The group’s efforts will most likely line up with those of a similar Charlotte-Mecklenburg group and the Monroe-Union County Economic Development group, something Urban thinks will be welcome and will allow the other organizations to focus on projects in other

The Alliance of South Charlotte Communities will not meet again until January, when members hope to get the ball rolling on a project to benefit the region and its economy.


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