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Appendix B: Forces, Trends and Directions Report

This report highlights global influences, that often originate from outside of the Salisbury city limits, that will undoubtedly shape the growth and development of the City over the next two decades.

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Forward 2040 Appendix B: Forces, Trends and Directions Report

The Forces, Trends, and Impact Report has been created as the forward-looking companion to the Forward 2040 Databook. It highlights global influences , that often originate from outside of the Salisbury city limits, that will undoubtedly shape the growth and development of the City over the next two decades. While no one has a crystal ball that can predict the future, seismic shifts in areas such as technology, demographics, and climate change are underway, and will shape decisions we make locally. This report offers an opportunity to anticipate and to contemplate how these forces may affect Salisbury and be addressed in the Forward 2040 Comprehensive Plan.


For the purposes of this report, “Forces” represent global phenomena that are and will influence trends in land use and development for the foreseeable future. Forces explored in this report include shifting demographics, advancing technology, changing climates, systemic barriers and disparities, and COVID-19 and public health.
For the purposes of this report, “Trends” are the direction in which forces are pushing changes in housing, jobs (retail, office, and industrial space), transportation, education and schools, community building and investing, and equity.
The “Directions” are possible ways in which the trends may relate to or influence the goals and policies in the Forward 2040 Comprehensive Plan. DISCLAIMER This report resulted from conversations among the Forward 2040 Steering Committee. Diverging opinions, even among Steering Committee member, exist.

Shifting Demographics

Like much of the United States, Salisbury is on the cusp of a significant shift in the makeup of the population. Compared to two decades ago, the city as a whole is older and more diverse. Family size is shrinking and those who do start families do so later. Population growth has been stagnant, but regional population growth, both from the north and the south, is showing signs of converging on Salisbury within the next twenty years. New populations moving to Salisbury could look very different than the one that exists here today.

For detail about demographic data in Salisbury, please see the Forward 2040 Databook.


The demand for different types of housing is likely to change alongside the population. Below are some trends to anticipate in the housing market driven by shifting demographics.
  • An aging population could mean an increased demand for senior housing, opportunities for people to “age in place”, multi generational housing, and complete communities that do not require reliance on cars as the sole means of transportation.
  • Shrinking family sizes could point toward the need to have a greater variety of housing types, including townhomes, duplexes, apartments, and smaller single-family homes.
  • Historic slow population growth coupled with an aging population has left many homes vacant, abandoned, and in a state of disrepair. On the other hand, rapid population growth could cause a shortage of housing and, in turn, increased prices which can contribute to gentrification and possible displacement of low-income communities
  • Continued impact of the Great Recession, the decline of well-paying jobs, and high amounts of student debt are changing the calculus for many on homeownership. The trend has been that more people rent their homes, and for longer.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Explore how zoning could allow a range of housing types including duplexes, cottage courtyards, townhouses, small apartment buildings, and accessory dwelling units.
  • Create incentives for homeownership, including starter housing and housing affordable to low-income earners.
  • Encourage ADA accessible housing and invest in ADA accessible infrastructure.
  • Encourage the development of communities where people can “age in place”.
  • Plan for affordable housing by land banking, putting educational programs in place for tenants and landlords, and property owners against speculative investors.


The workforce looks very different than it did even twenty years ago, with women now comprising a majority of the workforce. As the workforce changes, development of office, retail, and industrial space will need to adapt.
  • Women now comprise a majority of the workforce and job growth is in healthcare and education sectors.
  • By 2030, tech-savvy Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, meaning that the nature of work continue to shift from manual to computer-based.
  • Flexibility of schedules is valued by both women and Millennials. Trend in office development is toward less square feet per person or shared workspaces with more amenities, such as childcare facilities, gyms, and restaurants.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Through zoning, create opportunities for mixed-use developments that could offer flexibility of uses.
  • Ensure there is adequate land zoned for medical and educational (not limited to schools) purposes.
  • Ensure there is still land zoned for industrial, acknowledging that industrial jobs are changing to ‘cleaner’ industries.


  • While driving a personal car is still, by a wide margin, the most prevalent form of transportation, trends in larger cities would suggest that younger generations have different preferences. They delay getting their drivers licenses and car ownership.
  • As the population grows older, driving alone may become less safe for a growing percentage of the population.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage and invest in ADA accessible infrastructure upgrades.
  • Encourage the development of mixeduse communities where people can live and even “age in place” without having to rely on personal automobiles.
  • Encourage the expansion of existing or new public transportation options.
  • Consider micro-transit options and accommodate ride-sharing or bike-sharing options.


  • Slow population growth, coupled with an aging population are leading to declining enrollment. Enrollment affects the number and location of physical school buildings needed.
  • Especially amid COVID-19, there has been an acceleration of the loss of students in local public schools to non-public school venues (private, charter, home school).
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Research ways to reuse closed school buildings to create community assets.


Salisbury’s older generations tend to have more time available to be civicly engaged. Salisbury is also experiencing a slow rate of growth, making it difficult to have the revenue to maintain existing community amenities and to fund new projects.
  • Salisbury’s philanthropic generation is aging, reducing the pace of creating “margin of excellence” projects and initiatives.
  • Younger populations are seeking “experiences” over material possessions. People are tending to rather live in places where they can do things rather than have things.
  • The slow rate of growth in Salisbury is straining revenues to build new and, especially, maintain old infrastructure, parks, and other community amenities.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage participation at the individual level with residents.
  • Build relationships with new businesses and institutions in Salisbury.
  • Form cooperation between new businesses and residents through community activities.


As the demographics of Salisbury change, the forces that impact equity will too. Population aging, growing racial and ethnic diversity, and population shifts aggravate inequality.
  • The middle class is shrinking in the United States. This is causing greater wealth inequality as the distance between the low- and high-income brackets is growing.
  • Disparities in wealth, education, and health outcomes exist along racial lines.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Identify barriers and create programs that promote equitable outcomes in relation to capital building.


Place Matters. July 2015. “Community Strategies to End Racism and Support Racial Healing: The Place Matters Approach to Promoting Racial Equity”. National Collaborative for Health Equity. Community-Strategies-to-End-Racism-and-Support-Racial-Healing-The-Place-Matters-Approach-to-Promoting-Racial-Equity-.pdf PNC. March 4, 2020. “5 Demographics Trends Charging Commercial Real Estate Development”.

PNC Insights. https://www.

Cushman & Wakefield. January 27, 2020. “How Demographic Shift Will Impact the Global Workforce by 2030”.

Advancing Technology

When Vision 2020 was adopted in 2001, smart phones, social media, and the sharing economy (i.e. AirBnB, Uber) were still years away from becoming a reality. Today, these technologies are a part of our daily routines and have an impact on how people shop, work, socialize, and get around. Technological progress in other arenas – autonomous vehicles, smart grids, and new construction methods -- seem almost inevitable. Since Vision 2020 was adopted, Salisbury took a big bet on broadband technology by being a pioneer in installing municipal wide fiber infrastructure. How the City takes advantage on that investment will continue to impact economic growth and the wellbeing of the community.


The demand for different types of housing is likely to change alongside the population. Below are some trends to anticipate in the housing market driven by shifting demographics.
  • Broadband internet has enabled people to work virtually from home or anywhere else.
  • Innovations in building material and techniques, such as pre-fabrication or modular parts, may make housing more affordable to build.
  • Technology could create ways for people to connect for co-living opportunities, which would drive down costs by expanding dwelling prospects.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage the development of live-work spaces.


Future technology will continue to alter the way we do business. From work spaces, to types of employment available, Salisbury must be ready to adapt to these changes.
  • Third-party delivery services have altered the way that restaurants and other retail businesses conduct business. These services have been further promoted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Technology has enabled more people to be able to work from home efficiently, meaning the demand for office space will decline. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this decrease in demand.
  • Healthcare has transitioned to online platforms.
  • More people are attending virtual doctor appointments than ever before. Telehealth options may become even more popular as the availability of these services grows.
  • Online shopping and quick turn-around delivery has led to a decline of brick and mortal retail.
  • Technology has made light manufacturing cleaner and more conducive to mixed use.
  • Automation, artificial intelligence, and globalization have led to a loss of manufacturing jobs.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Consider zoning options for “green” districts, “innovation” districts, or “urban manufacturing” districts.


Technology will change transportation as we know it. Self-driving cars may eventually lead to a decrease in car-ownership as private car usage makes way for car subscription services. Package delivery is predicted to come by flying drones and autonomous carriers rather than people. Even sooner, traffic may be controlled by artificial intelligence. Understanding the implications of new technology on transportation in Salisbury will allow the city to prepare and employ their uses.
  • Personal transportation is becoming a service. Many ride-share companies are becoming more and more popular, particularly micro transit, car sharing and bike sharing companies.
  • The largest car manufacturers estimate that fully autonomous vehicles will have widespread availability in the next ten years.
  • Smart traffic control systems have the ability to decrease congestion and promote transportation efficiency.
  • Technology of drone travel and delivery services is accelerating and may be available for commercial use by 2028.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Research how micro transit, ride shares, car shares, and bike shares currently affect the city and how these may evolve in the future.
  • Prepare for new types of transportation on public right-of-ways.
  • Research the feasibility of smart traffic control as it becomes available.
  • Explore how autonomous vehicles and ride share will affect parking standards and street design.


The delivery method for education at all levels will be altered with coming technological advancements. As a community with various K-12 and higher education institutions, Salisbury must be prepared to adapt to changing needs of physical school establishments.
  • Virtual learning and the ability to home school may alter the need for education buildings.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of micro/ pod-styled classrooms


Technology is creating new, decentralized ways to access financial capital, such as crowd-funding and micro loans. Innovations in technology could also introduce new ways to engage a broader spectrum of Salisbury residents and stakeholders.
  • Technology is creating opportunity for access to capital that does not exist through traditional lenders. Community-based investment and philanthropy can be accessed through digital platforms like KIVA.
  • New online platforms for community engagement are already being used, making it easier for people to participate and influence decisions.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Utilize online engagement platforms to expand participation
  • Foster relationships between Salisbury residents, businesses and communitybased investment ventures.


Not everyone has the same access to technology. The term “digital divide” is a term to describe the economic, education and social inequalities between those who have computers and access to internet and those who do not.
  • Access to computers and broadband internet presents opportunities in education and employment that is not shared equally. This can have significant impact in someone’s ability to find work, develop new skills, and attract businesses.
  • Race, income, age and geography are factors contributing to the widening divide in digital literacy. Studies have shown that half of all people without access to internet at home were people of color.
  • Smartphones and other mobile technologies appear to be helping to bridge digital gap for Black and Hispanic communities.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Leverage Salisbury’s investment in broadband to reduce barriers to high speed internet in disadvantaged communities.
  • Look to support crowd sourcing platforms like KIVA to promote entrepreneurship and business ownership among people of color.
  • Design public engagement to be mobile friendly to reach more diverse populations.


Federal Reserve System. 2019. “Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers”. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Pew Research Center. 2021. Digital Divide research topics.

Sarah Atske & Andrew Perrin. July 16, 2021. “Home broadband adoption, computer ownership vary by race, ethnicity in the U.S.”. Pew Research Center. smartphones-help-blacks-hispanics-bridge-some-but-not-all-digital-gaps-with-whites/

Johamary Pena. January 1, 2021. “Flying Taxis Are Coming and Communities Need to Prepare”. American Planning Association Planning Magazine.

Lora Kolodny & Katie Schoolov. November 30, 2019. “Self-driving cars were supposed to be here already- here’s why they aren’t and when they should arrive”. CNBC. https://www.cnbc. com/2019/11/30/self-driving-cars-were-supposed-to-be-here-already-heres-whats-next.html

Brian J. Barth. January 1, 2021. “Increased Remote Work Could Mean Big Changes for Cities”. American Planning Association Planning Magazine.

Changing Climates

In Salisbury, and across the planet, communities are facing the cascading impacts of more frequent and severe weather events caused by global climate change. As witnessed in 2020 (the wettest year on record), extreme weather can jeopardize established neighborhoods, and put infrastructure at risk. While Salisbury is far from a coastal city, the effects of climate change will be substantial. Models have predicted that temperatures in the region will increase by an average of 4 degrees Fahrenheit and that summers will be nearly 30 percent wetter than they are today in sixty years (University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Sciences). Decisions made today regarding growth patterns that either seek to minimize, or to expand, our carbon footprint will have tremendous impact on the resilience of cities like Salisbury.


Extreme weather caused by climate change can jeopardize established neighborhoods, leading to significant property damage and economic hardship. New “green” techniques in building and site design offer a way forward in planning and building housing.
  • Suburban sprawl, often characterized by large lot, strictly residential subdivisions, is known to contribute to increased levels of carbon emissions per capita. A more sustainable pattern of development would be to trend towards higher density, mixed-use, and urban developments.
  • The impact of climate change is posing to greater risk of property damages from flooding and stronger storms.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage cluster or conservation subdivisions that reduce the amount of impervious surfaces, protect open space, and expand the tree canopy.
  • Preserve historic buildings - the greenest building is the one that is already built.
  • Encourage changes to existing buildings to improve building efficiency such as adding insulation or performing weatherization.
  • Encourage compact, mixeduse living in strategic locations to minimize carbon footprint.
  • Avoid developing within flood prone areas and take steps towards site design that minimizes the impervious surfaces to slow the rate of storm water runoff.
  • Encourage weatherization programs to promote energy efficiency in homes and businesses.


A proactive response to climate change could lead to growth in “green” energy jobs, that have the capacity to replace jobs eliminated in the manufacturing industry through globalization and automation.
  • Climate change has prompted adaptations in building design, such as solar panels and green roofs.
  • Smart building technology can reduce operating expenses and carbon footprints for non-residential buildings.
  • Clean energy production will create green jobs that will replace jobs in fields that rely on fossil fuel usage.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Review the zoning ordinances to look for barriers to green building and green industry.
  • Reuse existing buildings and remediate brownfields.
  • Incentivize green building construction over traditional construction techniques.
  • Partner to attract green sectors to Salisbury.
  • Advocate for and support local green job training programs


Climate awareness has sparked new interests in active and public modes of transportation. Transportation accounted for 28.8% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2018. One of the largest producers of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions are personal vehicles.
  • Renewable fuels usage and the electrification of buses and cars are expanding.
  • Increased environmental awareness has led to people making location choices to reduce transportation demand. People are choosing to live in places where they can walk, bike, or ride a bus or a train to get to destinations, in other words, people are choosing to be multimodal.
  • Environmental regulations that improve efficiency of automobiles has reduced overall amount of funds collected by the gas tax, leading to decreases in transportation funding deferred maintenance.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage infill development and mixed use, walkable subdivision design.
  • When investing in public infrastructure, consider opportunities for electric vehicle, scooter, bike and bus charging stations.
  • Capitalize on Salisbury’s strategic location along the commuter rail line to Charlotte and Greensboro.
  • Update bicycle, trail and greenway plans to make biking a viable and attractive form of transportation.


The consequences of climate change include stronger, more frequent storms. In the most basic sense, schools will be affected by climate change because schools buildings may be destroyed by disasters. The uses of physical school buildings may be altered as effects from climate change become more severe, as well.
  • School building will require more maintenance and construction work as storms become more severe and frequent.
  • School buildings may be used as shelters for people who have will experience disaster-related displacement.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Prepare to retrofit existing school buildings.
  • Create disaster preparedness plans that utilize school buildings as shelter for displaced individuals.


  • More frequent and severe storms, drought, natural disasters threaten existing infrastructure capacity and stability.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Move toward ecosystem services and green infrastructure systems.
  • Prioritize the construction of more resilient infrastructure that can accommodate extremes and fluctuations associated with climate change.
  • Preserve open spaces to preserve biodiversity.
  • Develop city-wide climate action plan.
  • Collaborate with neighborhood groups to implement climate solutions.
  • Adopt clean energy and green utility plans.


Climate change has been observed to intensify existing inequalities. Lowincome communities are more likely to be affected by climate change and more likely to have difficulties in recovery.
  • Exposure to extreme heat, cold, and natural disasters have been observed to affect low-income populations at a greater rate.
  • Those that are living in more marginal land, typically flood plains, are affected by climate change at a disproportionate rate.
  • Indoor air quality and mold can affect health outcomes. Older homes have a greater risk to have poor indoor air quality. Older homes are typically more affordable for people to purchase or rent.
  • Disaster recovery is more difficult for communities that do not have access to financial capital resources.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Adapt or retrofit built environments and buildings for climate change.
  • Establish or participate in existing weatherization assistance programs.


Daniel C. Vock. January 1, 2021. “Climate Migrants Are on the Move”. American Planning Association Planning Magazine.

International Labour Organization. 2021. “Why does climate change matter for employment?”. ILO (Climate change and jobs).

OECD. 2008. “Eco-Innovation Policies in the United States”. Environment Directorate.

EPA. 2021. “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”.

Cathleen Kelly, Cecilia Martinez, & Walker Hathaway-Williams. September 28, 2017. “A Framework for Local Action on Climate Change”. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress. org/issues/green/reports/2017/09/28/439712/framework-local-action-climate-change/

S. Nazrul Islam & John Winkel. October 2017. “Climate Change and Social Inequality”. Department of Economic & Social Affairs.

Systemic Barriers and Disparities

Systemic barriers are policies, practices, or procedures that result in some people receiving unequal access or being excluded altogether.

Like in most cities across the country, the roots of socioeconomic disparities in Salisbury can be traced to a legacy of policies that either explicitly or indirectly excluded minorities, especially African Americans. The effects of broadly accepted public policies – from the practice of “redlining” African American neighborhoods to widespread neighborhood clearing in the name of “Urban Renewal” – impact communities of color to this day: White households ($47,785) in Salisbury have median incomes 39% higher than Black households ($34,448) and 57% higher than Hispanics ($30,493) (2018 American Community Survey)). The poverty rate is 28.5% for African American households and 37% for Hispanic households, compared to 19% for White households according to the 2018 American Community Survey. The unemployment rate among African Americans over 16 years old is more than twice that among White people (16% unemployment for African Americans compared to 6% unemployment rate for White people). As Salisbury becomes even more diverse over the next two decades, the success of the community will be determined by the prosperity and well-being of all residents. We should recognize that significant efforts have been made in Salisbury in narrowing these gaps and it behooves us to continue that trend.


While individual professionals in the planning field may not have been acting intentionally, as we look ahead to 2040 it is important to recognize the past and present role that the planning process has played in creating and perpetuating discriminatory processes against communities of color, LGBTQ communities, women and persons with disabilities. Looking ahead, we must consider:
  • What groups are affected by our decisions and are they at the table?
  • How will our decisions affect each group?
  • How will our decisions be perceived by each group?
  • Do our decisions ignore or worse existing disparities or produce other unintended consequences?
  • Based on the responses what revisions are needed?
Listed below are several examples of exclusionary policies or programs, many of which were enacted at the federal level but played out locally and help to explain the disparities evidenced in the following section.
  • Zoning along racial lines was outlawed by the US Supreme Court in 1917 (Buchanan v. Warley), but many places continued to adopt zoning ordinances with exclusionary impacts. For instance, zoning that is intended to separate land uses has also been used to exclude multifamily rental housing from neighborhoods with better access to jobs, transit and amenities.
  • Even though racial zoning was prohibited, privately enforced restrictions known as covenants were placed on many privately developed housing developments which led to further segregation by neighborhood.
  • During the 1930s and the decades following the Great Depression, the Federal Housing Administration’s home mortgage program granted the opportunity for home ownership to thousands of families in the US. However, the FHA relied on a discriminatory practice of “redlining” to deny insuring mortgage loans in and around African American neighborhoods. Between 1934 and 1962, 98% of the FHA’s loans went to white home buyers.
  • Following World War II, the GI Bill that guaranteed low interest mortgages and spurred the post-war housing boom did not explicitly exclude African Americans. However, the issuance of the loans were administered by private financial institutions that used red-lining techniques to refuse mortgages to Black people.
  • The Housing Act of 1949 established the policy of urban renewal, the goals of which were to give cities funding to clean up impoverished or blighted areas and invest in affordable housing and urban infrastructure projects. Because urban renewal was fundamentally targeted at clearing slums, poor people and people of color were often disproportionately impacted – losing their homes and their communities. By the late 1960s, an estimated 384 families had been displaced by urban renewal projects in Salisbury, 91% of which were families of color.
  • Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it illegal to discriminate in the buying, selling, or renting of housing because of a person’s race, color religion, or national origin. Sex, familial status, and disability were later added to the protected classes.
  • More recently, studies have been done that suggest white communities are more likely to support restrictive land use policies - like large minimum lot sizes and restrictions on multifamily housing – that result in greater levels of segregation. By contrast, Salisbury’s current Land Development Ordinance allows a mixture of housing types in most zoning districts, outside of local historic districts.


Past policies have led to significant disparities in people’s ability to own property and afford housing.
  • In Salisbury, the rates of homeownership are significantly higher for White households (66%) than for communities of color (29% of African American households and 34% of Hispanic or Latino households own their homes) (2019 American Community Survey)
  • Of those who are housing cost burdened in Salisbury (meaning they spend greater than 30% of their income on housing), half are African American, despite making up just 35% of the total number of households (CHAS data 2011-2015)
  • Even after decades of desegregation under the law, neighborhoods (Census Block Groups) are still divided along racial lines. Below are maps of Salisbury’s census block groups showing where there are higher percentages of White, African American and Hispanic or populations.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Build and fund quality housing for very low-income population. The greatest need that is to be met falls in the less than 30% Annual Median Income range.
  • Promote multifamily housing zoning throughout Salisbury.
  • Allow smaller lot sizes to promote housing affordability.
  • Encourage housing programs for first-time home buyers.
  • Analyze the Land Development Ordinance for any exclusionary zoning practices and remove any offending ordinances.
  • Encourage development of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects in a variety of locations in Salisbury to avoid further concentrating low income housing opportunities in certain areas.


The legacy of unequal access to opportunity has led to a wide unemployment, income, and wealth disparity between African American and White residents.
  • The unemployment rate among African Americans over 16 years old is more than twice that among White/ Caucasian people (16% unemployment for African Americans compared to 6% unemployment rate for White people).
  • White households ($47,785) in Salisbury have median incomes 39 percent higher than Black households ($34,448) (2018 American Community Survey)
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Expand Equal Employment Opportunity Committee resources.
  • Recruit a variety of business and employment sectors to Salisbury so that available jobs are not limited to one industry, such as the service industry.
  • In partnership with Rowan County, increase public transportation options at all hours of the day so that employees can get to some of the larger, distribution centers outside of the City limits.


  • According to the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS), over 1,300 households in Salisbury do not have access to a car – that is nearly 10 percent of all households. With three colleges and universities, students make up a percentage of those households, but demographic and socioeconomic indicators would also suggest that both an aging population which is expected to increase (over 17% of the population is over 65 years old) and high incidents of poverty (22.5% of people are in poverty) contribute.
  • According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, annual transportation costs in Salisbury average $11,555 – about 22% of median household income. The expense of owning a car, or the ability to own a car, is not feasible for many in the community.
  • Despite the financial hardships, most people have no choice but to rely on cars and trucks to access jobs, health care, and other services. According to the 2015 ACS 5-year estimate, just 3% of white workers commuted using a means other than a car, truck or motorcycle. For black residents, the number was slightly higher at 5%.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Promote transportation choices, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, bus routes, and roadways, of quality, accessibility, and reliability, in areas of Salisbury that lack adequate transportation options.
  • Evaluate the City’s investment schedule to ensure that public funds are used to bring neglected areas up to standards and increase equity in provision and allocation of funds.


  • There is a significant achievement gap between White students and students of color in the Rowan Salisbury School District. In 2018-2019, end of grade assessments indicated that while 51% of White students were not proficient in math, that number jumped to 82% for Black students and 69% for Hispanic students. For reading, 45% of White students were not proficient, whereas 75% of Black and 66% of Hispanic students were not.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Support early education for prekindergarten aged children through Head Start and Smart Start programs.
  • Evaluate the Land Development Ordinance to ensure that school siting opportunities are available in all zoning districts.


  • Housing conditions in Census Tracts with high percentages of minority households are considerably lower than in neighborhoods with high percentages of White households per the 2016 housing conditions survey.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Evaluate the procurement process for investing in local companies that are minority or woman owned business.
  • Address the presence of racism in Salisbury and how it affects residents.


HOLC “Redlining” Maps: The Persistent Structure of Segregation And Economic Inequality, National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

A Forgotten History of how the US Segregated America, NPR.

Renewing Inequality. Urban Renewal, Family Displacements, and Race 1955-1966. University of Richmond.

COVID-19 and Public Health

At the time of this publication, the global COVID-19 pandemic has infected over 100 million people worldwide, a quarter of which live in the United States. Rowan County had higher than average rates of infections and deaths, with 34,939 cases and 519 deaths (1/24/2022). COVID-19 has impacted nearly every facet of life, and the way people interact with each other and their surroundings has been altered, possibly forever. Fewer people are traveling, shopping in-person, or attending entertainment activities, to name a few. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on minority communities and those with lower incomes, exposing and deepening inequalities. While the long term effects of the pandemic are still unfolding, it is clear that it will leave a lasting impression long after the virus is under control.


  • Despite moratoriums and rent and utility assistance programs put in place to stave off evictions, data still indicate that 16 percent of renters are not caught up on rent. Housing instability, especially among low income renters, is and will continue to be a significant issue.
  • Especially at the on-set of the pandemic there was an uptick in the number of people moving from large cities to smaller or more rural communities due to concern of increased transmission risk in dense urban environments.
  • With more people able to work from home, there has been an increase in the number of people investing in home repair, additions, and new construction.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Encourage the development of live-work spaces.
  • Continue to partnering with agencies that offer eviction diversion or prevention programs.
  • Support agencies that provide housing to extremely low income individuals and families most at risk of homelessness.


  • COVID-19 has led to job losses, particularly in the hospitality industry. Theaters, museums, sports venues, hotels, and others have all taken a hit they may not recover from.
  • COVID-19 has spurred what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation”: million of people, from front line workers to senior executives, to voluntarily quit their jobs. According to recent research by Microsoft, more than 40 percent of the workforce is considered leaving their jobs last year (2021).
  • For workers in hard hit industries, some may have found new positions in other parts of the supply chain (warehouses and deliveries), but many may find work in the “gig economy” where positions are independent contractors that lack regular hours and benefits.
  • Remote working could be here to stay, calling into doubt the future demand for traditional office spaces.
  • Entrepreneurship and home occupations are on the rise.
  • The ability to work from anywhere could mean that people will relocate from large metro areas to where it is more affordable, and more convenient to live – places like Salisbury.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Revisit home occupation permit regulations to balance emerging trends with neighborhood expectations. Photo Caption Goes Here With Information Photo Caption Goes Here With Information
  • For workers in hard hit industries, some may have found new positions in other parts of the supply chain (warehouses and deliveries), but many may find work in the “gig economy” where positions are independent contractors that lack regular hours and benefits.
  • Remote working could be here to stay, calling into doubt the future demand for traditional office spaces.
  • Entrepreneurship and home occupations are on the rise.
  • The ability to work from anywhere could mean that people will relocate from large metro areas to where it is more affordable, and more convenient to live – places like Salisbury.
  • Seek creative partnerships to bolster the hospitality and entertainment industries.
  • Re-evaluate the demand for traditional office space in land use and zoning plans.


  • Transportation demand has declined because more people are working from home, shopping online, and not attending entertainment events.
  • Traditional modes of public transportation have been challenged. There are fewer patrons and less public funding to set aside for public transportation.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Explore a micro-transit system to accommodate short, on-demand trips as a complement to fixed route mass transit.
  • Explore ride-share programs for bikes, scooters that allow multiple alternative modes of travel.


  • Education has been changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students have begun attending school virtually. While many students will return to their classrooms, some may stay virtual past the pandemic.
  • Uncertainty about student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic remains and will continue past the pandemic. These concerns grow in underserved communities where access to the Internet or technological tools is not guaranteed.
Potential Directions for the Forward 2040 Plan:
  • Investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of micro/ pod-styled classrooms
  • Work with Rowan County to evaluate alternative uses of obsolete school buildings.


Megan Oliver. January 1, 2021. “Pandemic-Proof Community Service”. American Planning Association Planning Magazine.

Brookings. December 3, 2020. “How is COVID-19 affecting student learning?”. Brown Center Chalkboard. https://

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. October 21, 2021. “Tracking the COVID-19 Economy’s Effects on Food, Housing, and Employment Hardships”. COVID Hardship Watch.

Lisa Leong, Monique Ross, & Maria Tickle. September 23, 2021. “Here comes the Great Resignation. Why millions of employees could quit their jobs post-pandemic”. ABC Radio National.

Cynthia Paez Bowman. June 1, 2021. “Coronavirus Moving Study: People Left Big Cities, Temporary Moves Spiked In First 6 Months of COVID-19 Pandemic”. MYMOVE.

Kenan Institute. September 24, 2020. “7 Forces Reshaping the Economy & Opportunities for North Carolina”.

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