The North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center met in Warrenton for its regional meeting on Wednesday, Nov 6.
The North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center is part of the N.C. Department of Commerce. Its goal is to, “inspire placemaking through building asset-based economic development strategies that achieve measurable results such as investment, business growth, and jobs.”
Present at the meeting were representatives from the MS&RP, Main Street managers and town planners from towns in this region of N.C., Warrenton Town Commissioner Michael Coffman, Mayor Walter Gardner, Warrenton Town Administrator Robert Davie, and members of the Warrenton Revitalization Committee.
The meeting covered regional updates from the MS&RP including plans for its annual Main Street Conference, which will be held in New Bern, N.C. next spring.
Warrenton sends representatives from town government and the revitalization committee to the conference every year.
The meeting moved to a roundtable discussion that allowed the representatives from Oxford, Angier, Henderson, Tarboro, Wake Forest, Garner, Pittsboro and Warrenton to share their ongoing projects.
“The best part about this meeting is that town managers get together and share innovative ideas,” said Davie. “We want to paint the crosswalks with quilt patterns on East and West Market Street. It was good hearing that projects like that go over well in other towns.”
The crosswalks Davie described are part of a large-scale streetscape project the town has planned.
After the roundtable discussion, the group had lunch and was accompanied by town officials on a walking tour.
Warrenton was accepted into the Small Town Main Street program in 2011. According to Gardner, “that was the shot in the arm we needed.”
The town’s success in the program was recognized by the state in 2014 with an Award of Merit in economic restructuring through revitalization efforts.
Among the key successes highlighted in the town’s award nomination were creation of a revolving loan fund, which helped establish new businesses and create new jobs; a grant program to help local businesses pay for installation of awnings and blade signs; and multiple building reuse projects that resulted in new office, commercial and residential space, as well as new jobs.