LAURINBURG — Laurinburg has garnered the coveted North Carolina Main Street designation, city officials announced Tuesday.
The NC Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, selects communities every other year via a competitive application process. In order to be considered, municipalities must have an identifiable traditional downtown business district and a certified population under 50,000 not already designated as an active Main Street or Small Town Main Street community.
Laurinburg was selected as a Downtown Associate Community in 2015 along with Aberdeen, Chimney Rock and Elon, and has worked for the past three years to become a full-fledged member of the North Carolina Main Street Program.
But the work has only just began.
City officials say it’s going to take a collaborative effort of all parties involved to turn downtown into the hub they envision.
“The goal is to get downtown booming and for it to become a hub for the area,” said Daniel Walters, downtown development coordinator. “It’s going to take some time, and if we’re going to have to accomplish the goal we’ve got to work together.”
Walters said he’s excited to be a part of the program because of the different opportunities it can offer the downtown.
“The goal is revitalizing downtown,” Walters said. “There’s a lot of neat businesses in downtown and a lot of good people in Laurinburg, and we want to show people how great it is.”
The idea is to stimulate economic development within the context of historic preservation, using a comprehensive approach to downtown revitalization.
Now that Laurinburg is a Main Street City, officials will receive help applying for grant money.
“It opens up a lot of avenues,” City Manager Charles Nichols said. “A lot of work has gone into this and it’s very rewarding to finally be a part of the program.”
City officials can take part in a Main Street Program forum that shows them how other cities have accomplished a project and puts them in contact with those people to see how Laurinburg could implement that plan. The program also offers various training programs, such as real estate and business development, Main Street 101, and design and organizational development, to show businesses and city officials how to bring downtown back to life.
Laurinburg also will receive help in other vital areas, including how to re-establish downtown as a compelling place for shoppers, investors and visitors, enhancing the visual quality of downtown, developing effective management and leadership, and improving economic vitality.
Laurinburg joins 83 other cities around that state that are part of the Main Street Program. Locally, Aberdeen and Lumberton are members, joining in 1988 and 2017 respectively.
“There is a lot coming downtown with new businesses and Laurinburg After Five moving downtown,” Nichols said. “There’s a lot of positive things happening downtown.”
The city is working on a website specifically for downtown, Daniel Walters said. In the meantime, there is a Facebook page, Downtown Laurinburg, that people can go to for updates.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171.