Residents can help plan growth

Lancaster County Economic Development will begin crafting a new strategic plan for the county this fall.

The group created its first strategic plan in 2009. More than 80 percent of that plan has already been implemented, said Keith Tunnell, president of Economic Development, and it’s “time for an update.”

Tunnell is putting together three committees to represent each of the three markets in the county – the Indian Land area, the City of Lancaster and the southern end of the county.

“Each of those markets is distinct and each needs a plan,” he said.

He spoke to the Indian Land Action Council last week and asked members to consider joining the committee to shape the strategic plan for Indian Land.

“We want your input and participation,” Tunnell said.

The plan will “most definitely” include a recommendation to implement the Hwy. 521 and Hwy. 9 corridor study, a study that was created in April 2010 and includes guidelines for development along the highways.

“We still need to protect the [Hwy.] 521 corridor and Hwy. 9,” Tunnell said. “We need to implement that corridor study in the worst way. We need to make certain that the Walmarts and Publix of the world develop in the right way with the right aesthetics, to promote future growth and development and to protect land values here in the Indian Land area.”

The strategic plan will likely include steps for improving the look of the Indian Land area. Right now, Tunnell said, the Indian Land area doesn’t measure up to the nearby Ballantyne, N.C., area in appearance.

Corporations looking to relocate are also looking for an attractive place to call home. Tunnell said that he recently brought the CEO of a Fortune 100 corporation into Indian Land, from Ballantyne.

The CEO said there was a marked difference in the aesthetics when you cross the North Carolina border into South Carolina. Tunnell hopes to improve that.

“It’s vital we have a clear plan to develop Indian Land,” Tunnell said.

The 15-mile stretch of land between Walnut Creek and Lancaster will be the next area for growth and development to occur in the Panhandle, he added.

“But we can’t develop that area if we don’t develop Indian Land properly,” Tunnell said.

Without a strategic plan in place, Tunnell worries that Hwy. 521 would have curb cuts every 100 feet, roads that aren’t aligned properly and could become similar to Independence Blvd., a heavily traveled road in Charlotte.

When the strategic plan is complete he will present it to the council for adoption, “and that will be our guide book for the next two or three years, to guide economic development.”

By Jenny Overman, Staff Reporter with Fort Mill Times