Spencer, Cherryville become part of Small Town Main Street Program | Business
SPENCER - It's a big honor for two small downtowns in our area. Cherryville and Spencer have been named to the state's Small Town Main Street program. It means they will get valuable technical expertise on how to revitalize the downtown areas and hopefully lead to economic development and more jobs.
That is the hope.
It begins with access to help that the town's probably wouldn't be able to afford on their own. Small towns across the state compete to be part of this program.
Debbie Barnhardt started her jewelry business in her basement and moved to downtown Spencer 21 years ago. But the railroad that defines the town runs through her blood.
"I lived in Spencer all my life," Barnhart told WBTV. "My father was a conductor and my grandfather was a boilermaker over at the Spencer Shops, and I love this town, it's precious."
Now Debbie Barnhardt is hopeful that the Small Town Main Street program will give the business community in Spencer a better chance to persuade visitors to the North Carolina Transportation Museum to come across the street to shops and restaurants of the quaint downtown.
"I'm getting ready to do a total remodel on my building so this couldn't come at a better time for me," Barnhardt added.
"This means badly needed help," said Spencer Town Manager Larry Smith. "We've been looking for for the last couple of years, we've got a lot of tools in our toolbox to implement downtown revitalization efforts."
The designation means there will be a team of experts to work with the grass roots efforts already underway here. Those experts can make suggestions and put forth strategies to help revitalize this downtown.
"They have will be able to say hey, maybe you guys haven't thought about this," Smith added.
And for many in the business community, it shows that the future for Spencer is on the right track.
"I've been waiting 20 years so this is wonderful to see this program come," Barnhardt added.
In Cherryville, the story is much the same. Katrina Burch operates two businesses downtown, including the Bella Verde antique shop. Burch told WBTV that she thinks the state program could be very helpful in revitalizing downtown.
The state started this program in 2003. Each town given the designation gets two years of concentrated monthly on site and phone consultation by the Small Town Main Street Staff.
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