Midland, North Carolina
Local leaders incorporated Midland, N.C. 16 years ago with a vision to cultivate the small town (pop. 3,073) into a desirable place to invest and live, while preserving the rural fabric of the community. The leaders hired professional staff to carry out their vision and this council/manager partnership has resulted in continuing success for the community, says Town Manager Douglas Paris.
- The population has grown 19 percent since the 2010 census and is on track to bump up about 24 percent in the next four years based on current housing approvals.
- Over the last three years, Midland’s tax base has grown 17.8 percent and is on track to grow an additional 21 percent over the next three years.
- The town already has a surplus of jobs and with growth in manufacturing and the industrial cluster that will continue to be a trend, Paris says.
- The community is seeing growth in manufacturing and industrial projects because of its proximity to the Charlotte market and excellent rail infrastructure. And Paris credits the focus on quality of life and a good school system for the growth in housing.
- Two recreational quality of life projects are complete with a third in the works.
Jobs with Above Average Pay
The Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway is the only railroad in the Charlotte region that connects CSX Transportation with the Norfolk & Southern railroad lines. The rail line allows a company to ship manufacturing inputs or outputs efficiently, which improves margins. Additionally, having connections to both CSX and Norfolk Southern gives a company leverage when it comes to negotiating freight rates. These advantages, along with Midland’s location in the Charlotte market, has helped it grow.
Leveraging this position, Midland recently landed Intertape Polymer Group’s first North Carolina facility– a $49 million advanced manufacturing plant that will pay wages above the local average. Intertape will produce supplies for the growing e-commerce sector.
The town works through the Cabarrus Economic Development Commission to find requests for proposals that are a good fit for the community. And a YouTube video was created to educate the local community. Once the public road is built for the Intertape facility, the town can begin to market a second site for another manufacturer, Paris said. And a third will quickly follow to complete the cluster.
Quality of Life
“Having amenities was a large focus of the local leaders’ vision for the community when it came to increasing quality of life,” Paris said. “We partnered with the Catawba Land Conservancy and Carolina Thread Trail on the two greenways and paddle trail.”
Midland is located on the Rocky River where the town constructed two sections of greenway and a five-mile paddle trail in partnership with the Carolina Thread Trail Program. The town made news this summer when the paddle trail was featured in an “Our State” article as one of the top under-the-radar kayaking spots in North Carolina. The paddle trail is great for afternoon trips and includes a light section of rapids. One of the two greenways includes a 1.7 mile walking trail along the river at Pharr Family Preserve and welcomes dogs. Both projects were completed at just under $250,000 for the town.
In addition, Midland will soon become the home to the county’s largest and newest park. The first phase of the 190-acre park is under construction and on track to open first quarter of 2017. Majority of the funding for the first phase, $1.6 million in total, is coming from the county, Paris added.
Usage data for the park and paddle trails is not yet available, he added.
Paris says his role is to carry out the local leaders’ vision for the community. “Without professional staff a vision can remain just a vision.”
Meet the Manager
Doug ParisTown Manager
Douglas Paris has 10 years of public executive experience. He has served in North Carolina in the roles of assistant city manager, interim city manager, and city manager. He holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government. In addition, he was certified in Human Resources Management by Duke University and High Performing Organizations by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. He has been town manager or Midland since June 2014.