On Monday night I attended the Annual Meeting for Main Street Roanoke Rapids. Director Christina Caudle, her board and volunteers have done amazing work this year, which they proudly shared with a packed crowd.
One of Main Street Roanoke Rapids’ proudest achievements was earning national accreditation for exceeding the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There are 794 nationally accredited US cities. One-third of North Carolina Main Street cities are nationally accredited. Since Roanoke Rapids has been a North Carolina Main Street city since 2009, theirs is the youngest Main Street program to earn National Accreditation in the state.
According to their annual report, “Roanoke Rapids is a Nationally Accredited NC Main Street community that uses the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Four-Pointe Approach which includes organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring to implement a downtown revitalization initiative.”
Regarding buildings and property, Main Street Roanoke Rapids has seen 23 façade improvements this year (a 53% increase over last year), nine building rehabilitations, and three public improvements. New business development has experienced 100% growth over last year with 19 new business openings (over 50% of which are retailers) and one business expansion. These new businesses openings have netted 42 new jobs, which is a 45% increase in job creation. An interesting fact is that 35% of all permits issued by the City of Roanoke Rapids are within the Main Street Roanoke Rapids district.
With all of the business openings, expansions and improvements, what is the total investment? This year there was $445,687 in private investment (up 28% over last year) and $154,143 in public investment (up 11% over last year). These impressive numbers are certainly indicators that Main Street Roanoke Rapids is furthering its mission, which is “to alleviate the physical, economic and social deterioration and increase economic activity and employment of the Main Street District in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Main Street Roanoke Rapids promotes development to enhance the overall business and commercial environment and assist in the historic preservation of Historic Roanoke Rapids.” Caudle was quick to stress that she is not achieving these numbers or doing all of this work alone. More than 2,700 volunteer hours have been logged at events, meetings and more. With the value of a volunteer being $21.47/hour in the state of North Carolina, that represents $57,969 saved by utilizing volunteers in the Main Street Roanoke Rapids program. Main Street Roanoke Rapids has hosted nine special events in the district this year with estimates of more than 3,500 people visiting the district for events and over $20,000 spent at main street businesses while visiting the district.
Several of our Chamber members are located on Main Street Roanoke Rapids (centered around Roanoke Avenue), and one of them was recognized last night as Business of the Year. We applaud Charles and Merry Tillery of Tillery Designs for their diligent efforts to maintain a thriving, vibrant business on Roanoke Avenue. Visit www.tillerydesigns.com for more information on their business, and be sure to follow Main Street Roanoke Rapids on Facebook and if you visit the district and upload photos to your social media, please use hashtag #mainstreetrr.
Kudos to Main Street Roanoke Rapids for their efforts of preservation and revitalization to be part of a strong economic development engine in the Lake Gaston region.