Profile of Cabarrus County

The County, incorporated in 1792, is in the Piedmont section of the State of North Carolina and is bordered on the north by Rowan and Iredell counties, on the east by Stanly County, on the south by Union County and on the west by Mecklenburg County; it comprises approximately 230,400 acres. There are six municipalities in the County, the largest of which is the City of Concord, also the County seat. Concord is approximately 124 miles from the City of Raleigh, North Carolina and 18 miles northeast of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina. The second largest municipality is the City of Kannapolis. The Towns of Mount Pleasant, Harrisburg, Midland and Locust are smaller municipalities in the County. The United States Census Bureau estimated a county population of 231,278 as of July 2021, making the County the 10th largest in North Carolina. The County is empowered to levy a property tax on both real and personal property located within its boundaries.

The County has operated under the Board of Commissioners-County Manager form of government since 1976. Policy-making and legislative authority are vested in a governing board consisting of five commissioners. The governing board is responsible for, among other things, passing ordinances, adopting the budget, appointing committees and hiring the county manager, clerk to the board, tax administrator and county attorney. The County Manager serves as the chief executive and is responsible for carrying out the policies and ordinances of the governing board, for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the government and for appointing the heads of the various departments. Board members are elected on a partisan basis serving four-year staggered terms, with new members (two or three) elected every two years.

The annual budget is the foundation for the County’s financial planning and control. All agencies of the County are required to submit requests for appropriation to the County Manager on or before the end of March each year. The County Manager uses these requests as the starting point for developing a recommended budget. The Board of Commissioners must adopt a final budget no later than June 30, the close of the County’s fiscal year.


The County is one of 10 counties located in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NCSC Metropolitan Statistical Area (the “Charlotte MSA”), which consists of Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Union counties in North Carolina and Chester, Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina. The Charlotte MSA, anchored by the City of Charlotte, was the 22nd largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States as of the 2020 census.

The County’s rapid growth, largely attributable to the County’s position in the Charlotte metropolitan region, has continued during this period of economic prosperity. The County believes that its short-range and long-range planning has provided the necessary infrastructure to accommodate current and anticipated growth and the County cooperates with its municipalities in economic recruiting and development efforts.

The Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation (the “CEDC”), which operates with a full-time staff, serves as the County’s primary recruiting and marketing entity. The CEDC concentrates its efforts on business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship and new business recruitment. This includes keeping an inventory of available sites within commercial and industrial parks with all municipal services available located near major highways and interstates. All of these efforts position the County for continued strong economic development.

Historically, the County’s economy was primarily dependent on agriculture and the textile industry, but the County’s proximity to Charlotte and access to major interstate highways have helped diversify the County’s economy through investments in biotechnology, healthcare, manufacturing, industrial and business parks, warehousing and distribution, entertainment and hospitality, retail and aviation.

The Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation

The Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation (the “CEDC”), which operates with a full-time staff, serves as the County’s primary recruiting and marketing entity. The Cabarrus EDC makes a measurable impact on individuals and families through program partnerships for local start-ups, support of existing businesses and recruitment of new industry. This includes supporting incubators for entrepreneurs, facilitating growth of existing business and keeping an inventory of available sites for business recruitment. All of these efforts position the County for continued strong economic development.

Historically, the County’s economy was primarily dependent on agriculture and the textile industry, but the County’s proximity to Charlotte and access to major interstate highways have helped diversify the County’s economy through investments in biotechnology, healthcare, manufacturing, industrial and business parks, warehousing and distribution, entertainment and hospitality, retail and aviation.


Atrium is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education, and compassionate patient care. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health is an integrated, nonprofit health system with more than 70,000 employees serving patients at 40 hospitals and more than 1,400 care locations.

Atrium Health Cabarrus, located in Concord, is the largest employer in the County. The 457-bed medical center serves a five-county region with more than 4,000 employees serving in more than 30 facilities throughout the region. Atrium Health Cabarrus is the second largest hospital facility in the Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas Healthcare System) network of healthcare facilities, which is the largest healthcare system in North Carolina and South Carolina and is the second largest public, multi-hospital system in the United States. Atrium Health Cabarrus provides a full range of tertiary and surgical services for residents of the County and surrounding counties. It has a Level III Trauma Center, The Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, The Mariam Cannon Hayes Women’s Center, The Batte Cancer Center, and other specialized services and facilities. In August 2018, the hospital opened a new state-of-the-art heart and vascular tower costing $115 million to house The Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. Atrium Health Cabarrus has also built satellite facilities in Kannapolis and Harrisburg. The Cabarrus Health Alliance, which is a public health authority and the only one of its kind in the State, also serves the county.


The North Carolina Research Campus Situated on 350-acres in downtown Kannapolis, the Research Campus houses eight major North Carolina universities focusing on biotechnology and nutrition research. At the center of the Research Campus is the 311,000 square foot David H. Murdock Core Laboratory, which houses the David H. Murdock Research Institute, Dole Food Company and Endev Laboratories. Other facilities include the Cabarrus Health Alliance, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Biotechnology Training Center, Greenhouse Facility and the Kannapolis City Hall and Police Headquarters.

Kannapolis Downtown Revitalization Project

Kannapolis has started a Downtown Revitalization project. The Master Plan envisioned a downtown with 1,500 residential development units, 300,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of offices and a hotel. The overall project includes public and private improvements. Among these are redevelopment of the main streetscape into a transportation facility that also functions as a linear park; a private demonstration project with parking deck, residential units, office, hotel and retail.

Kannapolis has invested $113 million in three catalyst projects including the West Avenue Streetscape, the Atrium Health Ballpark (the new home of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers Minor League Baseball Team) and a public parking deck in the VIDA mixed-use district. The VIDA district includes 284 apartments, commercial and restaurant space.


Concord started a Downtown Revitalization project in 2020. Lansing Melbourne Group’s Novi mixed-use projects represent an estimated $70 million of private investment and will add nearly 300 new market-rate and workforce apartments, commercial retail space, and a rooftop restaurant to the heart of downtown. The city’s streetscape project will replace aging utility infrastructure and improve pedestrian walkability, recreation, and outdoor dining opportunities. In early 2023, the County’s new courthouse and public plaza will open.


The principal products manufactured in the County include optical fiber, plastic extrusion, food processing, concrete products, lumber and wood, specialized coloring, fabricated metal and machinery products, corrugated packaging, automobile parts and racing electronics. One of the largest of these manufacturers is Corning. Corning, Inc.’s fiber optics facility is in the southeastern part of the County and is the world’s largest producer of fiber optic wire. Corning is continuing to increase its manufacturing numbers.

One of the largest industrial/manufacturing parcels in the state, which encompasses over 2,100 acres, lies in the City of Concord. The manufacturing site and land on both sides of U.S. 29 is available for development and is being marketed as The Grounds at Concord. Since 2019, the Cabarrus EDC has announced over $2 billion dollars of new investment and over 1,800 new jobs at the site, including manufacturing facilities for Eli Lilly, Red Bull, Ball and Rauch. The property is adjacent to George Liles Parkway, which has been extended/improved and provides a four-lane connector to U.S. 29, I-85, N.C. 73 and N.C. 3. In the future, the four-lane thoroughfare will extend to NC 49.


The County has strong industrial and distribution sectors. This strength is due, in large part, to geographic location within the larger MSA and the combination of road and rail service. In addition, the aviation sector is strong and growing (this is discussed in a separate section). The best way to summarize Industry and Distribution is by area including potential areas for growth in those sectors. The primary areas that are occupied and growing lie along the interstate corridor but there are also concentrations near Harrisburg and in the southern part of the County. In addition, there are areas with infrastructure in place, or being improved, that are available for continued growth.

The International Business Park (IBP) is located near an interchange on I-85. The owners of the IBP actively pursue private investment from around the world. IBP includes a mix of over 30 companies the majority of which are global corporations. IBP has had constant activity over the last 25 plus years including recent lease up of speculative buildings, construction and occupancy of major distributions centers, the addition of manufacturing uses and, most recently, the completion of additional speculative buildings.

There are two additional concentrations of industry and distribution along the interstate corridor at Afton Ridge and the Derita Road area. Afton Ridge includes retail, residential and distributions center for S.P. Richards (200,000 square feet) and Gordon Foods (300,000 square feet). Additional phases of the Afton Ridge Business Park will include multiple industrial speculative buildings in the coming years.

The Silverman Group constructed and owns a total of seven (7) industrial buildings (2 million square feet) along Derita Road in Concord. The RiverOaks Corporate Center, also located on Derita Road, provides over one (1) million square feet of industrial development. RiverOaks is currently owned by Exeter Property Group.


The West Winds Industrial Park is located on Derita Road directly across from the airport entrance. Tenants in West Winds Industrial Park include Westrock Coffee (formerly S & D Coffee and Tea) and NASCAR Research & Development. S & D Coffee and Tea is a Cabarrus County legacy company and its expansion to this area of the county included the addition of 200 jobs. West Winds is also home to 26 Acres Brewery.

The Midland Business Park and Intermodal Facility is a future business park to be built near NC Highway 24/27 and Highway 601. Aberdeen Carolina and Western Railway is working to develop the 70-acre business park to permit the relocation of an intermodal facility, as well as, additional distribution facilities. The Intertape Polymer Group’s construction of a new manufacturing plant in Midland is an example of additional growth in the southern part of the County. That plant has a value of approximately $40 million and they employ more than 50 people in the first phase. They have already announced and begun an expansion for additional production lines.

The Kannapolis Gateway Business Park is an 85-acre park located one mile from an interchange on I-85 and features approximately 753,000 square feet of industrial space and a 12-acre retail center. A million square feet of distribution was recently constructed which houses an Amazon distribution center. The facility is a combined investment in real and personal property of over $85 million and has a total of 600 plus full-time employees now that it is in full operation.


The retail mix in Cabarrus County includes sites that serve the region/state and the local economy. The regional magnet is Concord Mills, which is the state’s largest tourism draw with over 17 million visitors each year and continues to spur retail and non-retail development.

Additional retail centers have been constructed throughout the County because of the population increase that has occurred. Larger retail centers are concentrated along Interstate 85 and in Harrisburg. Smaller, grocery anchored centers have been developed and are developing in several locations within Kannapolis, Concord and Harrisburg.


Since opening in 1994, the City of Concord has developed and operated Concord-Padgett Regional Airport on approxi¬mately 750 acres surrounded by I-85, Concord Mills Boulevard, Derita Road and Poplar Tent Road. The City’s Aviation Department manages the public use commercial service airport as a self-sustaining enterprise fund. The airport has 7,400 feet of runway that can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320.

Concord-Padgett facilities include a general aviation terminal, 32,000 square-foot commercial service terminal and 700-space two-level parking facility. The airport also includes a variety of support facilities, hangars and over twenty-five acres of ramp space for aircraft parking.

According to a 2021 NCDOT Division of Aviation economic impact analysis, Concord-Padgett contributed over $831 million into the local economy and supported 5,070 jobs in the region. There are currently 119 aircraft based at the airport with a combined taxable value of $218 million. Bringing additional revenues, based aircraft and new services for the community ensures the airport’s role as a critical regional economic generator and community asset.

The airport is home to many private sector businesses providing aircraft maintenance and detailing, flight schools, aircraft charter services, air ambulance providers and more. The airport is also home to many NASCAR corporate aviation flight departments including Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Allegiant Air began commercial service in December 2013. Commercial service is offered to nine destinations including Orlando Sanford International Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. In 2020, 260,000 passengers flew commercial out of Concord-Padgett.


The County has transformed itself from a textile and tobacco-based economy to one of the most thriving tourism economies in the state of North Carolina. According to the latest economic impact study from Visit North Carolina, visitor spending in the County reached a record high of $515.7 million in 2019. In 2020, that figure decreased by 44.2% to $287.5 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic ranking the County 16th in total visitor spending out of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Overall hotel Occupancy was 65.3% in 2021 and the Average Daily Rate was $92.83. This was an increase of 32.9% and 16.4% respectively over 2020 lodging data. The recovery has been driven mostly by leisure travelers. Throughout FY2023 it is expected that business and group travel will continue to rebound, but not to pre-pandemic levels.

The County promotes itself through its definable motorsports brand. This is due to the large concentration of motorsports attractions, including Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), as well as NASCAR based teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing, which provide race fans and visitors the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at top racing teams. CMS is a major sports and recreation facility that regularly hosts activities that draw over 1,000,000 visitors per year. Each year, CMS hosts major motorsports events, including two major NASCAR racing events. Facilities at CMS include a seven-story office building and conference center topped by a restaurant and private club. The zMAX Dragway hosts several events including two NHRA-sanctioned events on the first four-lane drag strip in the world. The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts annual dirt racing events including the World of Outlaws World Finals and motocross races. The Speedway has continually diversified its events portfolio by hosting major car shows and concerts.

The Cabarrus County Tourism Authority (CCTA) markets the County utilizing the 6% Occupancy Tax levied on hotels. The CCTA mission is to “drive visitation to Cabarrus County to generate the maximum impact through hotel stays and visitor spending.” In FY23, the CCTA will continue to expand its reach for potential visitors through targeted marketing efforts as well as create more opportunities for conventions and meetings. Recent projects stemming from the County CVB’s Strategic Plan, such as the Concord Mills flyover bridge and installation of four new turf fields at local high schools have and will continue to generate positive economic impact and enhance the overall experience throughout Cabarrus County for visitors and residents alike.