Three Halifax County towns have been selected by the North Carolina Department of Commerce to participate in Downtown Strong.
The towns are Halifax, Littleton and Weldon. A total of 24 communities located in smaller, rural counties across the state were selected to participate in the new initiative of the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center.
The program will provide downtown revitalization expertise to selected incorporated rural communities.
In 2018-19, representatives of Governor Roy Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative visited North Carolina counties to better understand how rural communities could actively reinvigorate their local economies.
From the input provided by Hometown Strong counties, as well as insights from the towns, cities and counties which work regularly with the commerce department, the department identified leadership development and education, building local government capacity, and downtown revitalization as keys to successful economic development in North Carolina’s rural communities.
“Downtowns are the heartbeat of rural North Carolina,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “Downtown Strong will help small communities regain their economic vibrancy and position them to retain and recruit new businesses, create jobs and spur investment.”
Downtown Strong will assist towns that are not yet part of the formal North Carolina Main Street program or that have needs outside of the traditional Main Street program.
The program will help communities either prepare for the Center’s Downtown Associate Community program, or to prosper on their own.
Services will utilize the successful framework of the Main Street America program: downtown economic development strategies implemented through four key areas of focus - economic vitality, design, promotion and organization actions.
“We’re excited to be able to offer this service to rural communities across the state,” added Kenny Flowers, assistant secretary for Rural Economic Development. “The Main Street program has a proven track record of success, and Downtown Strong will incorporate components of that successful model into downtown revitalization initiatives for smaller North Carolina communities.”
Experienced downtown revitalization experts will work directly with these communities in collaboration with the N.C. Commerce Regional Prosperity Zone planners to provide each town with a thorough downtown assessment and to craft a downtown implementation plan. Towns will also receive training and education, as well as opportunities for networking.