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Advocates spur growth in $2B NC horse industry
Study recommends horse park, tax breaks for equine industry By Sam Boykin CHARLOTTE — Although Charlotte is best known as an urban banking center, it’s also part of the state’s thriving equine industry — yes, as in horses. As surprising as it may seem, Mecklenburg County is home to approximately 9,500 horses, one of the state’s most horse-populated counties. Moreover, it’s part of a booming industry in North Carolina that fuels nearly $2 billion in economic impact and creates close to 20,000 jobs, according to a study from the N.C. Rural Development Center. But with North Carolina’s horse business still lagging behind neighboring states, several state agencies and associations are working on ways to further expand the industry. Leading the charge are folks like Susan Grey, executive director of the N.C. Horse Council, a non-profit volunteer organization representing the equine industry. Grey said the council and other groups are working to achieve some of the recommendations outlined in a recent study of the industry’s economic impact, including building a mega horse park that could attract national shows, reinstituting horserace wagering, pushing for land ordinance changes to support more equestrian trails, and offering tax breaks to horse owners and businesses similar to those given to farmers.