Fixing Downtown

On December 7, I joined others to watch a live webinar in the Selma NC Fire Department conference room, called “Fixing Downtown: Where the Heck Do We Start?”

Hosted by the Destination Development Association, the facilitator, Roger Brooks, a tourism speaker and expert, showcased four case studies of small towns that turned around with local support – from newcomers, residents, business owners, non-profits and local government working together to face challenges and make change happen.

Here are the four small towns featured in the webinar – click on the names to read about each:

Water Valley, Mississippi: “They Made Main Street Their Own: How Four Women Revived a Derelict Mississippi Town.”

Parowan, Utah: “Finding Parowan’s Sweet Spot: The Mother Town is Making a Push to Increase Tourism by Launching a New Cinnamon Roll Themed Campaign.”

Littleton, New Hampshire: “Destination: Littleton – New Crop of Entrepreneurs is Creating a ‘Viable, Vibrant Downtown’.”

Rosebud, Alberta: “Rosebud Theatre an Important Part of Rosebud’s History.”

I am encouraged by these four case studies, mainly because I recognize assets that are already being leveraged in Selma. Our beloved anchor, The Rudy Theatre; our railroad history at Selma’s Union Depot and Mitchener Station; our restaurant talents – Hula Girl Café’s mouth-watering apple jacks and Mozelle’s Soul Food’s fried fish and collard greens; Atkinson’s Mills’ great biscuit and hush puppy mixes, and our retro/vintage shopping at Reid’s Country Sampler and others. Volunteering at the Selma Visitor Center for the past four years, I meet travelers from up and down the east coast who repeatedly return to Selma off I-95. Last week, a couple from Connecticut stopped in for brochures and local guides. They have stopped at the RVacation RV Park  off Exit 98 in Selma for eight years now. Impressed with the park’s growth, they decided to extend their stay an extra day this year to explore the small towns along U.S. 301 from Selma to Dunn.

As for me, I’m continuing in 2019 to deploy four arts projects in uptown Selma through a grant awarded to the Max G. Creech Selma Historical Museum. We just finished a three-month Selma Art Pop Up that connected 15 artists, and hopefully will lead to an art cooperative in Selma. A local artist is repurposing a donated News & Observer newspaper dispenser into a Little Free Library (partnering with the Greater Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce); I’m presenting four more stories for the notebooks at the Harrison Center for Active Aging from our Telling Our Stories sessions, and, on April 6, 2019, the Johnston County Writers Group is hosting our first one-day writers conference at the Selma Woman’s Club. All these projects are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

In addition, every Wednesday at 9 am, we meet for coffee in the Selma NC Visitor Center at 112 E Anderson Street in uptown Selma, NC. There, we are making connections and forging entrepreneurial teams to #ActivateSelmaNC. Anyone is welcome to join us!

For more information about the Destination Development Association and Roger Brooks, go to Downtown.



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