Lancaster County, S.C., begins just south of the red-hot Ballantyne development in South Charlotte and ends deep in rural South Carolina.
This is a place of great contrasts - of historic gold mines, ancient Indian settlements and small textile towns on one hand and budding business parks, bedroom communities and Charlotte commuters on the other.
The arrival of several thousand new residents in the last decade is bringing rapid change, particularly in the county's northern "neck" near Charlotte. The development of new roads, including the I-485 outerbelt, including the widening of SC 160 to four lanes is encouraging the growth.
So are Lancaster county officials. When work began a decade ago on Ballantyne, Lancaster leaders rezoned land and installed utilities that would welcome growth here, too.
Their foresight paid off with Baile's Ridge, four miles south of Ballantyne on S.C. 160. The 460-acre mixed-use development eventually will have a 200-acre corporate campus, a neighborhood park, and shops and services around a village center. Developers are attracted to Lancaster County's less expensive cost of land and lower taxes, which has resulted in the boom in corporate office projects here, particularly along S.C. 160.
Home to Sun City Carolina Lakes, a vibrant active adult (55+) community, south of the Ballantyne area.
Crosland, one of Charlotte's biggest developers, also saw the potential of northern Lancaster County and in 2001 began 521 Corporate Center, a 67-acre office park on U.S. 521 that will employ thousands of white-collar workers.
Clearly, settlers from the north are rewriting the Lancaster County story -again.
The first time occurred in the mid-1700s. Scots-Irish settlers spilling out of Pennsylvania and Virginia found fertile places to build new homes in Lancaster County. The county's first settlement was called the Waxhaws, named for an Indian tribe.
Gold fever struck first in nearby Cabarrus County, but Lancaster County produced its own wealth during America's first true gold rush. The Haile Gold Mine near Kershaw opened around 1830 and became the most productive gold mine east of the Mississippi before closing for good during World War II.
Lancaster County's next wealth came from textiles, starting in the early 1900s. Leroy Springs, principal founder of Springs Industries, built a dam along the Catawba River in 1905 to power his mills and the towns of Chester and Lancaster. Springs Industries has maintained its status as the county's largest employer.
In 2001, York Technical College, based in Rock Hill, opened the Kershaw-Heath Springs satellite campus in Lancaster County, which significantly contributes to the area's skilled workforce.
The county's rural setting and low cost of living within close proximity to Charlotte makes Lancaster County an appealing area for growth. Other features contributing to Lancaster County's economic and residential growth are the constant upgrades to sewer, water and natural gas services to enhance citizens' living and encourage future growth.