The Future Downtown Business Development Office Will Be Located at 132 S.W. Main Street Photo: William West Telegram Article. A Fine Facade restoration/saving of this Commercial Building
‘A spot of bother’ indeed over the cost of moving, and maintaining an office in a building the city does not own. From my point of view, I am delighted with this decision. It could have been done when John Jesso was here, who had a vision for this office and was an ideal person to be marketing the endless downtown possibilities. City Manager, Charles Penny, preferred to have John and the development office close at hand. Time has passed. Recently, it has been announced that the development office is moving to Main Street. I have long thought that with the right personal, and the accessibility of location, marketing from Main Street will increase commercial property sales. With a welcoming attitude that says, we’re here to work with you until we have ‘lift off,’ this will encourage people to help preserve, restore and repurpose Rocky Mount’ s treasure-trove of commercial architecture.
Chris Rogers said at the June Council Meeting,
“I am sympathetic to the argument that we should conserve funds with inflation and possible economic challenges ahead,” Miller said. “But for years I attended the Main Street programs — and I wish that we had had a nonprofit downtown that was active like in New Bern and some other areas. The city offices are not the Main Street program,” Miller said. “It’s not a nonprofit, but I do appreciate the need to have the person downtown who interacts with people looking for properties downtown and getting folks involved in being downtown.” EXACTLY!
An involved, energetic, knowledgable manager and team, will justify the need for a downtown development office. If after one year’s time the results of this new marketing strategy is not baring ample fruit, a new team should be put in place immediately. This isn’t a job for everyone, however good they may be at other things. This requires people skills, ideas, vision, hustle. The downtown stakeholders have done a wonderful job honoring the past with successful restorations and repurposing. The city’s responsibility is to remove obstacles, support and assist those who want to invest in the revitalization of the city. I would like my quote on the wall – “Draw a circle large enough to include everyone”
I am aware of other needs we face. I am of the opinion that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Particularly, while Peter Varney is steering the ship with his vast knowledge, even handiness, creativity, work ethic, and friendship to all. This kind of change under Peter’s valuable leadership is great timing. I don’t disagree with the concerns leaders in the community have raised. I’m trying to find language to persuade you to separate out the purpose and goals of development that can now be conducted from an open door on Main Street. This will cost money, but to a good end. There must be an accurate accounting of the commercial architecture available the day the office opens to gage the success of the current staff moving forward.
I know I stamp my feet in the middle of Main Street from time to time. I was knocked off those feet with the lack of voter turnout in the June election. With my head in my hands, I questioned, if the voters don’t care, why should I? What’s the point? In spite of city council’s usual suspects, and voter apathy, the sun continued to rise over downtown. I got myself together and returned to my view that Rocky Mount’s revitalization is a campfire for people to see in Eastern North Carolina. An entire region that needs economic development. A great deal has been accomplished and continues to build. While researching, I read an article, – Community and Economic Development in NC and Beyond…Key Elements of a Successful Downtown. CLICK ON: http://Community and Economic Development in NC and Beyond…Key Elements of a Successful Downtown.
This article confirms that RockyMount has accomplished a great deal. The article begins, “Having a vibrant downtown or town center can have numerous benefits for a community. Aside from creating a “sense of place” and a node of commercial and cultural activity, research shows that businesses prefer locating in downtowns or walkable “live-work-play” communities due to advantages in attracting and retaining workers, developing creative collaboration, creating desirable brand identity and corporate culture, and positioning the business within close proximity to customers and business partners. Additionally, evidence suggests that town center residential apartments can attract young professionals, who prefer walkable, urban settings.”
I am back to throwing logs on the campfire with encouragement from this informative article. Please read it when you can. If those working from the new office prove successful with the possibilities placed before them, there will be ‘lift off.’
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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