The Henderson Vance Downtown Development Commission held a State of Downtown meeting on February 9th, 2017 in the Farm Bureau Room of the Perry Memorial Library in Henderson, NC.
The purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness of the programs and accomplishments by the HVDDC in 2016, plans for 2017, and gather feedback from downtown business owners of issues.
Speakers and topics were
Phil Hart – HVDDC Chair
- Overview of HVDDC
- Introduction of meeting agenda and set expectations for the meeting and HVDDC
Eddie Ellington – City of Henderson Mayor
- Welcome to State of Downtown meeting, anxious to hear updates and ideas
Carolyn Powell – HVDDC Executive Director
- Hired a part-time Executive Director, beginning January 1, 2016
- Added three new Directors to the DDC
- Re-established committees, aligned with the NC Main Street Center approach, included members of the community and set regular meeting schedule
- Published & distributed two quarterly newsletters
- Established a relationship with Preservation North Carolina
- Coordinated two long range planning session and one budget planning session
- Reached out to Golden Leaf as a potential funding source
- Continued the monthly Mayor’s Walk
- Continued to work on the DDC office space
- Filled all openings on DDC Board of Directors
Alec Proctor – Design Committee Chair
- Determined landscaping needs and lighting needs in the downtown area
- Established a relationship with the architectural technology program at Wake Technical Community College for façade designs, marketing and landscape planning
- Began work on an office space, donation
- Issued façade grants in the amount of $4,663 to two downtown business owners
- Received grant funds in the amount of $5000 from the Powers Foundation for a downtown pavilion.
- Received grant funds in the amount of $21,000 from the Triangle North Healthcare Foundation for a downtown pop-up farmers market.
- Approved & committed façade incentive grants totaling $7,200 for three projects.
- Performed landscaping behind buildings between Garnett Street and William Street.
- Submitted grant applications to Local Foods/Local Places and Everybody Walks.
- Submitted a nomination for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence for Breckenridge Com-mons (Police Station, Perry Library, McGregor Hall & Performing Arts Center)
Alice Sallins and Lois Williams – Promotions Committee Chairs
- Sponsored & coordinated an Independence Day Parade and children’s activities.
- Produced and distributed 2 editions of Clockworks, the DDC’s quarterly newsletter in Au-gust/Summer and November/autumn.
- Revived the downtown pavers (around street trees) project.
- Hosted the Harvest Moonlight Gala. Gala was an outdoor dinner attended by 108 individuals.
- Co-sponsored, with the Small Business Center at VGCC, three business improvement seminars.
- Sponsored Trick or Treat downtown.
- Coordinated Small Business Saturday event.
- Coordinated installation and removal of downtown Christmas decorations.
- Sponsored and coordinated the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting.
- Sponsored downtown window decorating contest with 15 participating businesses
- Sponsored Girls on the Run 5K
Benny Finch – Economic Vitality Committee Chair
- Received $2,000 from a private donor for the economic development study.
- Received $300 from Vance County Tourism for the economic development study.
- Conducted surveys of all downtown business owners.
- Updated the downtown business directory.
- Hosted economic development consultant, Hilary Greenberg, for a 2 ½ day visit
After each committee went over their accomplishments, and plans for 2017 were discussed, a question and answer session took place. Questions included progress on entering North Carolina Main Street program, garbage cans on the street, sidewalk and curb problems, and how to measure the success of the programs.
The HVDDC will apply for the 2017 Downtown Community Associates program, a prerequisite program by the NC Department of Commerce before entering into the full Main Street program. We feel with the work we’ve done these past years and the committees in place that we based off the Main Street program approach we have a good chance of being accepted. If accepted, we can be in the program for up to 3 years, by then we must meet the requirements to enter the full Main Street program.
A complaint was heard regarding garbage cans left on the street. Waste Industries provides garbage cans, and picks up once per week. The issue is garbage cans are left on the street on days that trash is not picked up. This issue will be discussed by the design committee on next session.
A complaint was made that the sidewalks and curbs can be degraded, mismatched in some areas. City staff acknowledged the issue and committed to looking into the problem.
A question was asked how do we measure the success of the programs. We do not have historical foot traffic data, nor do we have a way to collect foot traffic data. Sales tax revenue reports from the state do not break down just the downtown area. We can ask a survey from the downtown merchants of revenue for the last x years. However, we do not feel business sales are fair way to judge the work we do in awareness and advocacy of our downtown. We can report attendance at events, which we are holding numerous events, continuing old events, and also having new events each year. Attendance at those events relates to foot traffic, and as said in the meeting, the HVDDC’s goal is to get people downtown, but it is the business owners responsibility to get them in the stores and purchase. We have a facebook page in which we help showcase businesses and events in downtown, and that page now has over 750 likes.
The HVDDC requires community support. If you would like to help on any of these issues, or have your own passion about downtown, let us know and we can get you to the right group! We need your help, whether that is your time, materials, or funding. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the Henderson Vance Downtown Development Commission visit their website at www.hendersonncdowntown.com
Video services for the meeting were provided by Dataforge.
Catering services for the meeting were funded by the HVDDC and provided by Emporium Food and Spirits, a new restaurant soon to open in the old Uptown Rose building.Image Information: Photo by Michelle Burgess