Dunn re-booting efforts to revitalize Main Street

Business, property owners joining with state

Posted 10/18/18

An effort by Dunn Downtown Development Corporation to revitalize the downtown area has been restarted in hopes of making Downtown Dunn one of the go-to spots in the area.

Representatives of the …

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Dunn re-booting efforts to revitalize Main Street

Business, property owners joining with state

Posted

An effort by Dunn Downtown Development Corporation to revitalize the downtown area has been restarted in hopes of making Downtown Dunn one of the go-to spots in the area.

Representatives of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center, which is overseen by the Rural Economic Development Division, North Carolina Department of Commerce, presented information about the Downtown Associate Community program to business and property owners Wednesday morning at The Stewart Theatre.

One of the newest members of city administration, Tasha McDowell, who serves a community planner for the city and is heading up the revitalization efforts for Dunn Downtown Development, said the meeting was the first step in bringing the city back into gear for making the downtown area great once again.

“The meeting is to inform them about how we can better promote and advertise their businesses and make Downtown Dunn a hot spot so citizens and tourists will want to come here and visit us,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is to promote the downtown. The downtown district is the heartbeat of a community, it was the first that was established and now it’s going through a rebirth.”

She said the efforts of Main Street boosting can be seen in plenty of other communities.

“A lot of municipalities in the state and throughout the country are participating in the rebirth,” she said. “It’s for the local history, that’s why I’m so proud of our museum and our efforts to preserve the historic aspects of downtown. They create jobs and entrepreneurial chances downtown.”

Dunn Mayor Oscar Harris said the joint effort between the city and state, along with the efforts to promote from the business and property owners, has sparked the restart of something which could bring many benefits to Dunn.

“It’s a culmination of numerous partnerships coming together for the revitalization of Downtown Dunn,” said Mayor Harris. “You can do the things necessary as far as the infrastructure, but you have to get the property owners and the businesses to buy into it.”
Mayor Harris said he believes that’s been the case, leading him to believe the advice and information provided in Wednesday’s meeting is just the beginning.

“I think they’ve done that and we’re ready to move forward now,” he said. “We have a new group and the new group is excited under the leadership of Tasha. We’re ready to move forward and culminate the associate program and move straight forward into the Main Street Program for the City of Dunn.”

Dunn is currently a member of the Associate Main Street Program, which simply means they are making progress toward being a Main Street community.

Downtown coordinator of programming and technical assistance for the state, Sherry Adams, said the city is on track to reach its goals, despite losing Keilah Goff of the Dunn Downtown Development Corporation after Mrs. Goff was sidelined with medical issues.

“Because there is good leadership here we feel like we can catch Dunn up pretty quickly and they will be on track,” she said. “Dunn would be able to move up to Main Street status in 2020. If Dunn meets the timelines and deadlines involved they should be able to do it.”

What exactly is it Dunn is trying to achieve? According to Ms. Adams, it’s a way for the city to receive beneficial assistance and guidance to promote economic growth and vitality for the downtown area.

“To achieve that final status you will always have technical services from us on an as-needed basis,” Ms. Adams said. “We don’t just come in and make you have a meeting. We come in and say do you need us to come facilitate a meeting. Do you need us for training, many of our Main Street communities will call us in and say we need some board training, a planning session.”

She said when a town moves up to the top tier of the program the city will have access to technical services unavailable to cities not in the program.

“They’ll have ties to the national program and the state program,” she said. “They may have grant opportunities not available to non-Main Street communities.”

At the present time, Ms. Adams said those grant opportunities are very limited, but the future could see that change.

“There has not been funds appropriated this year,” she said. “But there has been in the past.”

There are several steps remaining which includes those with a stake in the downtown revitalization becoming deeply involved in the process. It includes examining ways to make downtown Dunn more welcoming and appealing.

“What we’ll do is really monitor that process,” Ms. Adams said. “Once we get that process moving forward, we’ll make sure the organizational strength is still there, we’ll make sure the town’s commitment is still there and Dunn Downtown Development is still the vehicle to drive the program.”

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