Columbia’s five-year economic plan takes shape

Published 6:17 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2019

“Columbia is a hub, drawing buyers from the Creswell, East Lake and Fairfield areas, with food and gasoline being the big sellers,” Mayor James Cahoon told the board of aldermen July 1.

He was reporting on the five-year plan oversight committee’s two recent meetings with regional planner Lee Padrick of the state Department of Commerce.

“We have trouble publicizing and marketing our town, and we sometimes don’t communicate well with ourselves,” Cahoon allowed.

Cahoon said the meetings had “gone very well” with “good attendance” by the 13 members.

Padrick initially presented an overview of the planning process and identified economic drivers present in Columbia, Cahoon said. The committee then engaged in an asset identification exercise, listing such things as the river, boardwalk, parks.

At the second session, Padrick explained some ways money flows into the town and other ways it “leaks out” through, for example, the lack of a local clothing store.

The committee identified strengths and opportunities versus weaknesses and threats to the town’s economic vitality, the Scuppernong River being both a plus and a minus.

Based on discussions and conclusions thus far, Padrick will present a draft vision statement on August 15, which the committee is expected to finalize and submit to the board of aldermen on October 7.

The committee also invited two Columbia High School students—rising seniors Dea’Shawn Spencer and Kea’Shawn Spencer—to join the committee for its August 15 session.