Cabarrus County April 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation
Regional City/Suburban

We started our day in Cabarrus County with Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant at the Atrium Health Ballpark. The ballpark is home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers and has a seating capacity of 4,930. When games aren’t in session, the facility is open to the public where visitors can enjoy the concourse and walking track.

According to Mayor Hinnant, Cabarrus is the third-fastest growing county in North Carolina with a population just over 213,000. For years, Cabarrus was primarily a textile mill community. “Generations of people worked here. This was the center of their lives,” said Mayor Hinnant. Until 2003, the textile industry employed many residents in both Rowan and Cabarrus counties. But the mill’s single-day layoff─ the largest single-day layoff layoff in North Carolina’s history─ had a profound impact on the community. Over 5,000 people lost their jobs that day.

Leaders from the city of Kannapolis started to rethink how they could provide a place so that residents could enjoy a better life. Part of that included a desire for citizens to “discover a healthy life” – a thought that’s incorporated in a logo painted in large letters across a building adjacent to the ballpark. The city invites the community to engage in a healthy life and has a website dedicated to providing information for residents looking to improve their health – physically, mentally, and professionally.

Another way the community has engaged in the betterment of health is the establishment of the North Carolina Research Campus.

After the 2003 shutdown of the mill, an investor, David H. Murdock, bought the property out of bankruptcy. Murdock decided to transform parts of the mill and build the research campus. The research campus was born out of Murdock’s desire to find solutions to tackle cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

We made our way to the North Carolina Research Campus which is less than a mile from the ballpark. The campus is a 350-acre scientific community that operates to “empower human health through nutrition.” Eight North Carolina universities have research centers on the campus, in addition to the David H. Murdock Research Institute. Research on the campus includes the development of safer, more nutritious crops, healthier foods and precision nutrition.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s nursing and biotechnology programs, as well as the Small Business Center, are also located on the research campus. Additionally, departments from Atrium Health, Cabarrus Health Alliance, and the city of Kannapolis are located on the research campus.

Our visit to the research campus included a tour of the NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) managed by NC State University. The lab is the only facility in the nation with “cGMP [current Good Manufacturing Practices as specified by the FDA] capabilities dedicated to supporting the plant-based food innovators of tomorrow.” NCFIL helps food companies get their products to market quickly and effectively.

We ended our day at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Advanced Technology Center. Led by president Dr. Carol Spalding, the primary focus of Rowan-Cabarrus is workforce development. The college aims to meet the educational needs of students and the changing requirements of the workplace.

Welcomed by Vector, the center’s official robot greeter, our team learned about the economic development in Cabarrus County and then toured the Advanced Technology Center.

The center is a 55,000 square foot building with adaptable labs and classrooms that are designed to meet industry growth through the years. Some of the training programs housed in the center include mechatronics, computer-aided design, 3D printing, hydraulics, and pneumatics. Students in these programs work on equipment that companies currently use─ which allows for a better hands-on experience.

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

U39702, 12/22