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Moving Forward Together As A Community

Portrait of Mayor Karen Alexander in front of city seal

Message from the Mayor

As a City, we are excited to share the City of Salisbury’s first Strategic Plan. Developing a strategic plan emerged as a top priority for Council during its 2023 Retreat. Through several workshops with Council, staff, and community stakeholders seven focus areas emerged around which we have formulated strategies for implementation. This Strategic Plan represents our work to be a welcoming and forward-thinking community with a vibrant economy, high quality of life and greater opportunities for everyone to thrive.

This Plan clearly articulates how we plan to ensure healthy, safe, and engaged neighborhoods, build economic and workforce development opportunities, promote public safety, embrace innovative organizational excellence, develop sustainable infrastructure, and support cultural amenities to lead our community forward.

It gives City leaders, staff members, and residents a blueprint of the City’s work plan while providing a framework for budgetary and policy decisions to advance our identified priorities. This Strategic Plan also follows our comprehensive plan, Forward 2040. Our comprehensive plan, budget, and firm commitment to providing exceptional municipal services for our community underlies every strategic objective. As we navigate our future, this document will guide us on where, when, and how to use our City’s resources to meet the needs of our community.

Our City Council and staff are committed to addressing our challenges and delivering quality municipal service to our residents, but we always need your support. We are proud of this Strategic Plan and the breadth of projects that will enhance the quality of life for our residents, now and into the future. We encourage you to stay engaged with us and follow the progress of our focus areas and strategies. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve.

- Mayor Karen K. Alexander

Portrait of Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Sheffield in front of city seal

Mayor Pro Tem
Tamara Sheffield

Portrait of Council member David Post in front of city seal

Council Member
 David Post

Portrait of Council Member Anthony Smith

Council Member
Anthony Smith

Portrait of Council Member Harry McLaughlin

Council Member
Harry McLaughlin

Our Strategic Plan

Healthy, Safe, and Engaged Neighborhoods

Engage with our community to build partnerships that promote and foster thriving neighborhoods where people feel safe and included, have access to adequate and affordable housing, and are provided opportunities and amenities to enjoy a high quality of life.


  • Increase the supply of housing for all incomes, and those with special needs by completing and taking steps toward implementing the 10 year Housing Strategy Plan with funding recommended in the study including Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collaboration.
  • Eliminate blight by continuing to work with property owners and neighborhoods to enforce nuisance/minimum housing regulations and pursue redevelopment opportunities for substandard and vacant properties.
  • Continue to build partnerships to provide services to the unhoused population as well as short- and long-term housing.
  • Seek developer partnership and funding/incentives for mixed-income and senior housing neighborhoods.
  • Develop inclusive and sustainable community engagement plan and programs that build capacity among neighborhoods and stakeholders to enhance quality of life and increases trust and support with the City.
  • Implement the Forward 2040 Comprehensive Plan through completing small area plans that improve walkability, connectivity, and access to daily destinations with Complete Streets designs and placemaking throughout the City.

Public Safety

Ensure a safe Salisbury by partnering with our neighborhoods, businesses, Rowan County, and non-profit organizations to provide innovative, efficient, equitable, and responsive cross-departmental public safety services.


  • Complete public safety projects including the construction of Fire Station 3 with an Emergency Operations Center, the water system fire loop for better fire protection in our historic downtown, and the decontamination facility at Fire Station 2.
  • Expand “Community Conversations” with Police and Fire Departments and neighborhoods, businesses, and organizations throughout the City to engage the public and proactively address safety and crime prevention through open, transparent, and accessible communications and partnerships.
  • Evaluate Police and Fire Departments and staffing in support services’ roles, facilities, and technologies and continue to pursue state and federal funding to provide enhanced and specialized safety services for our community.
  • Reduce the crime rate in our community by building partnerships with homeowners, businesses, and organizations, implementing creative crime deterrence programs and services, and continuing partnerships with Federal, State, and other Local Law Enforcement agencies.
  • Evaluate and seek funding to build and operate a needed training and certification firing range for the City’s Police Department.
  • Support expanded Parks and Recreation programming to support youth safety and crime reduction initiatives.

Economic and Workforce Development

Foster opportunities for economic growth and prosperity for all by retaining, cultivating, and attracting a strong and diverse workforce while leveraging local assets and partnerships to promote a resilient local economy that supports business growth and development.


  • Undertake ventures for redevelopment to encourage economic growth and tourism advancement in downtown, including the purchase of the Depot for multimodal development and the sale and redevelopment of the Empire Hotel.
  • Collaborate with schools and organizations to build skilled trade programs in targeted growth industries, including the use of internships and apprenticeships.
  • Conduct a branding study for marketing and promoting Salisbury’s strengths and potential to help attract talent and businesses.
  • Implement a micro-transit program to connect neighborhoods and residents with growing economic opportunities and improve mobility for all.
  • Promote an environment to support small business development and growth to include evaluation of grants and partnerships that benefit small businesses.

Organizational Excellence

Commit to innovative employee development and retention initiatives, fiscal responsibility, increased communication, and partnerships to support employees as they deliver exceptional and equitable service to residents.


  • Evaluate staffing levels to ensure the organization’s ability to meet growing service needs and identify sustainable funding to pay for staffing needs.
  • Continue to review compensation and benefits to implement needed adjustments to address recruitment and retention issues and ensure employees receive a livable wage.
  • Review existing policies to identify barriers that inequitably impact employees and customers.
  • Provide staff training to better understand our differences and commonalities while promoting an appreciation for the values of diversity and equity in our organization and community.
  • Continue improving Salisbury’s organizational culture through enhanced communication strategies; identify and invest in staff training opportunities that expand employees’ knowledge and abilities; and implement creative recruiting initiatives to become an employer of choice.

Sustainable Infrastructure

Become an environmentally resilient community that thrives on innovative, sustainable practices through thoughtful infrastructure planning and continued investment in our critical utility and capital assets.


  • Continue to invest in our infrastructure to plan for economical and sustainable growth and to properly maintain City assets.
  • Implement adopted Capital Improvement Program including projects for Stormwater, Water and Sewer, and General Fund.
  • Increase funding for Information Technology Infrastructure to improve network security, provide efficient services, promote creativity, and address growth.
  • Construct environmentally, sustainable projects to prepare for growth and development including a City fueling station that incorporates charging stations for City-owned electric vehicles and Main Street Project for streetscape improvement.
  • Conduct environmental infrastructure audits within all established City-owned buildings to reduce energy needs, and redirect energy and money resources to our growing community.

Cultural Amenities

Support high-quality parks, open spaces, greenways, and community spaces that provide a wide range of diverse amenities and programs to support healthy lifestyles for all ages - youth to retirees - and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our community.


  • Expand opportunities to partner with local artists for public art installations including crosswalks, murals, the Sculpture Show, and the Art and History Trail.
  • Develop a master plan in collaboration with Rufty-Holmes Senior Center to fund and construct a multi-generational community center and pool to provide recreational and social opportunities.
  • Identify funding sources and partnerships to assist with greenway expansion to connect existing segments and promote a walkable community.
  • Seek funding opportunities to design and complete the renovation of the Wells Fargo Building to include offices and a community event center.
  • Review festivals and events for staffing and funding needs and explore hosting a cultural event at Bell Tower Green to celebrate the diverse range of cultures represented in Salisbury.

The City of Salisbury, North Carolina, is located in the heart of the Piedmont region of North Carolina and serves as the county seat of Rowan County.

Its location along the I-85 corridor provides easy access to a sizeable population base and benefits from its proximity to Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. The City has experienced significant growth, with the population rising 35% between 2000 and 2021, from 26,462 to 35,760, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Salisbury is rich in character and history, providing a variety of experiences for all cultures and ages. The cultural atmosphere of the Salisbury area is vibrant, providing many of the offerings available to larger cities while maintaining the small-town charm it prides itself on. These amenities include performing arts shows, a symphony, and many concerts and art shows in partnership with the local colleges. Salisbury displays a strong commitment to historic preservation with five local historic districts and ten National Register historic districts, with several of its 19th- and early-20th century homes and commercial buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City also boasts a number of recreational activities that bring thousands of residents together, fostering a rich sense of community. Special events offered throughout the year include Movies in the Park, Downtown Nights Out, Fall Campouts, Music at the Mural, the Cheerwine Festival, and many more. The annual Cheerwine Festival has grown over the years, bringing over 60,000 visitors to downtown Salisbury every May to enjoy live music, food vendors, shopping, local craft vendors, and family-friendly activities.

The City prides itself on ensuring the preservation and utilization of green spaces to promote community interactions. Salisbury offers multiple opportunities for outdoor recreation, including over 500 acres of park land and almost 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. One of the most significant downtown green spaces is Bell Tower Green, where community members gather to celebrate, connect, and engage. This quiet haven with three acres of green space, trees, and gardens provides a way to enjoy nature in historic downtown Salisbury.

Our Organization


Salisbury is a welcoming and forward-thinking community, inclusive for all generations, aspiring to offer a vibrant economy, high quality of life, and greater opportunities for everyone.


We are a dedicated, hardworking, and passionate team that works together to provide exceptional, fair, and responsive services that prepares Salisbury for the future and provides opportunities for everyone.


Our organizational core values were developed by a team of employees and define what is important to the City of Salisbury. These organizational core values guide our service delivery and serve as the foundation for how we lead, act, conduct business, treat others, and engage with the community. We stand by our values and act accordingly to deliver services that exceed expectations.

City of Salisbury employees serve the community through:

Collaboration: Utilizing teamwork and cooperation through internal and external partnerships.

We encourage and pursue information sharing, open and honest working relationships, and inclusion of diverse experiences and thought across departments and throughout the City. We expect regular engagement with community members, business, schools, and organizations to gain insight and build partnerships. Collaborative partnerships among employees and the community enhance the way we deliver services. Additionally, diverse, cross-departmental teams of employees create cohesion in the organization, holistically solve problems, and create ownership of decisions. Working collaboratively, we are stronger as an organization and as a community. We can achieve greater success if we work together, cooperate, and respect others.

Fairness and Equity: Ensuring practices that embrace and respect the varied perspectives and backgrounds of all.

We will continue to promote fairness in our services, policies, and programs. We value the diversity in our organization and community and know this makes us stronger. Our commitment to inclusion, equity, and belonging positively impacts all City employees, creates a supportive organizational culture to recruit and retain talent, and adds value to the community we serve. We will be an organization free of discrimination and hold ourselves and one another accountable to respecting others and supporting a community and organization where all feel welcomed.

Compassion: Being helpful and responsive by treating others with respect and care.

We are committed to public service and to making a difference in our community and organization. This starts with prioritizing our coworkers and customers and delivering high quality and responsive service. We are accountable to our community and each other. As an organization, we will ensure exceptional customer service through a knowledgeable and trained workforce that treats coworkers and customers with courtesy, empathy, and care.

Innovation: Utilizing bold and creative ideas to drive continuous improvement, exceed expectations and take a proactive approach to problem solving.

We strive for excellence and are focused on using innovation and best practices to improve our work processes, services, and facilities. Employee training and development is critical for our continuous improvement and effective problem solving. Our organizational culture empowers employees and teams to be creative, try new things, and seek new opportunities that assist the community, save public resources, and streamline processes. Additionally, investment in new technologies is supported to foster efficiencies and enhance productivity. Not all innovations will work out, and we will use these times as learning opportunities and try again.

Sustainability: Responsible stewardship of the environment, our finances, and service provision.

We desire to remain a livable community that grows sustainably with its own identity. As public employees we are stewards of our community resources and responsible for our work. Our accountability to the public and responsible management of resources builds trust in the community and allows the City to pursue long-term plans and continued quality services. Transparent communication and meaningful engagement with the public are critical to ensure and promote sustainability and responsibility. As City employees, we will add value, lead to sustain our limited resources, openly communicate, and be good caretakers of our community.

Integrity: Being honest and responsive and maintaining accountability through all actions, words, and decisions.

We want to enhance public trust and encourage civic pride. If we are not true to our word, we lose the community’s confidence and support. To ensure trust and credibility for our organization, we will speak and act with honesty, sincerity, and professionalism with those we serve and with our coworkers. Employees are responsible for our actions and decisions. Even when mistakes occur, we will remain transparent and accountable. Our promise is to treat others the way we want to be treated and to do the right things, the right way.

Our Process

The City of Salisbury embarked on its first strategic planning process to create a vision and roadmap for achieving long-term success.

Having a clear strategic direction is paramount for any organization as it serves as a guiding framework that aligns efforts with long-term objectives. A well-defined strategic direction fosters a sense of purpose and unity among team members, promoting a shared vision and values and ensuring that all aspects of an organization work cohesively toward a common goal.

The strategic planning process involved input from a broad range of internal and external stakeholders. Engaging those in the community ensures varied perspectives are included and aligns organizational goals with external expectations, while inclusion of staff at all levels of the organization fosters a sense of ownership, enhancing the plan’s relevance and effectiveness.

This process included:

  • Kick-Off Workshop
    The strategic planning team met to discuss the overall goals, scheduling, and communication and engagement strategies for the project. Clarifying objectives and establishing roles and responsibilities for the project lays a strong foundation for collaboration and provides purpose and clarity.
  • Stakeholder Engagement
    Input was obtained from internal and external stakeholders, including individual interviews with members of City Council, a listening session with the chairs of the City’s various Boards and Commissions, and an online survey distributed to City staff. Engaging various stakeholders in the strategic planning process yields valuable insight and feedback on internal and external dynamics, ensuring the strategic plan is well-informed and impactful.
  • Strategic Planning Workshop
    Drawing from the stakeholder input, Council members and City staff met to develop the organization’s vision and key focus areas. Defining a long-term vision and developing key focus areas that align with stakeholder priorities provides a framework to govern the evolving needs of the organization and community.
  • Strategy Workshop
    The strategic planning team met to develop success statements associated with each key focus area, articulating what success in each area looks like for Salisbury. The team also drafted specific strategies to be included in the strategic plan framework. After development, staff worked to refine the framework and solicit additional feedback, including review from the management team, steering committee, and an employee advisory committee. This high level of collaboration resulted in a comprehensive and robust strategic framework that enhances buy-in across all levels of the organization and ensures alignment across departments.
  • City Council Review
    The final strategic framework was presented to City Council for approval and adoption.

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