John Jesso – Saluting Rocky Mount’s Codega


Rocky Mount has a codega in the guise of John Jesso.

I knew if I waited long enough to write about John Jesso, Downtown Development Manager, the perfect description would present itself and signal that it was time.  When first published, I enjoyed the book Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, Eat, Pray, Love. I recently borrowed the tape from the church library and have been listening to it in the car.  I almost ran up on the curb on Sunset Avenue a few days ago when I heard what I have been waiting for. I shouted, “That’s it, that’s John.”

“In Venice in the Middle Ages there was a profession for a man called a codega. – a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection throughout the dark streets.”

John’s job may have started May 19, 2014 as the Downtown Development Manager, but what Rocky Mount wound up with is a tireless codega. He is a man who holds his lantern high, showing all who come our way the possibilities that Rocky Mount offers. Thank goodness he has enough confidence in the future to ignore the naysayers, and we have enough sense to follow his lit lantern.

John’s job is one of the most interesting, but demanding in Rocky Mount. The hopes and aspirations of the community follow him from place to place while he promotes a downtown that stays true to its roots. At the same time he understands what is necessary to build a future that will meet the needs of today. John says, “A vibrant Downtown is a reflection of our community’s image, pride, level of prosperity and the level of investment, all of which are critical as we are trying to recruit folks, both individuals and companies to come here.”

The North Carolina Main Street program wrote in an article that Rocky Mount has the best collection of historically, architecturally significant buildings in the state. This Main Street Rocky Mount blog aims to keep touting all the significant things there are to be proud of, all the assets we have that help in the revitalization of the area. John’s lantern promotes a sense of place to be found here, the history of Rocky Mount that offers a cultural context. We couldn’t have a better codega than John Jesso. He deserves our support, applause, and encouragement as he scares off the thieves and demons that every revitalization process encounters.

I dedicate this post on everyone’s behalf to John Jesso.

Thank you from all of us.


2 thoughts on “John Jesso – Saluting Rocky Mount’s Codega

  1. I loved how you found such a fitting description for John as a codega. You have such a talent for writing. I look forward to reading more and finding out what is in store for RMT.


    1. Thank you Julie for agreeing that John is indeed a codega for Rocky Mount. Hope you have time to continue to meet me on Main Street, wandering about town, spending time together and in the company of good people like John Jesso.


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