Due south of Charlotte, just across the Carolina border, sits the South Carolina county of Lancaster. While the decline of the southern textile industry started to unravel Lancaster County’s economic and cultural fabric, signs of economic opportunity began to surface in Lancaster’s panhandle area near Charlotte. The success of the upscale, mixed-use development of Ballantyne, near the intersection of Interstate 485 and US Highway 521 in southern Mecklenburg County, demonstrated the potential of Charlotte’s newly completed “Outerbelt” loop to attract new development further south.
While a number of residential developments have sprung up in the panhandle section, including Sun City Carolina Lake, Lancaster officials have also worked closely with the SC Department of Commerce to attract new businesses to the area. In just the past two years, two significant corporate relocations -- the North American headquarters for Continental Tire and the corporate headquarters for the internet marketing company Red Ventures – have boosted the county’s economic profile considerably. Meanwhile, the southern part of the county struggles to keep up; unemployment and poverty remain high in this rural part of the county. As the glow of northern Lancaster’s economic success grows even brighter, it is hoped that it will spark additional economic activity benefitting more communities further down Highway 521.