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Twenty-four communities located in smaller, rural counties across the state were selected by the N.C. Department of Commerce to participate in Downtown Strong, a new initiative of the N.C. Main Street & 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 NC towns/cities and counties that work on a regular basis with N.C. Commerce, the Department has 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 AmericaTM 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.   The Downtown Strong communities selected are:

Town

County

Chadbourn

Columbus

Pembroke

Robeson

St. Pauls

Robeson

Maysville

Jones

Parkton

Robeson

Pollocksville

Jones

Littleton

Halifax

Nashville

Nash

Weldon

Halifax

Bailey

Nash

Halifax

Halifax

Princeville

Edgecombe

Louisburg

Franklin

Raeford

Hoke

Youngsville

Franklin

Thomasville

Davidson

Wadesboro

Anson

Yanceyville

Caswell

Lansing

Ashe

Bryson City

Swain

Spindale

Rutherford

Robbinsville

Graham

Pilot Mountain

Surry

Marshall

Madison

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