09/28/08 — Downtown Development Corp. mentor wins lifetime achievement award

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Downtown Development Corp. mentor wins lifetime achievement award

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 28, 2008 12:21 AM

Most Goldsboro residents don't know the name Rodney Swink, but some, like Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Director Julie Thompson, do, and they know it well.

As the former director of the North Carolina Main Street Center -- he retired in June -- Swink helped to transform dreary downtowns across the state into vibrant communities.

The N.C. Main Street program helps small towns to recognize and preserve their historic fabric, by using local resources and by building on their unique characteristics to create vivid central business districts that meet the needs of today's communities.

To Mrs. Thompson, though, Swink was much, much more than just the head of the program.

"He helped guide my vision for downtown," she said.

She spoke of when she first came to a Main Street event, and how she had "no clue" what she was doing.

Swink helped her along the way, giving her advice.

"He has been a solid mentor," she added.

Still, it came as a surprise that at the DGDC's Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony Friday night that he would be holding the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Goldsboro was one of the first downtowns he started working with when he began at the center more than 20 years ago, he said.

And he says Goldsboro residents should be proud of what has been accomplished in the downtown area over the past several years.

"You'd had some successes. You'd had some losses," he said of the downtown area. "I don't know any community that could suffer the loss of the Paramount Theatre and the Community Center in such a short time, but you faced it, dealt with it and have moved forward."

It takes time, patience and great leadership to revitalize a downtown area, and he says Goldsboro has it all.

"Here in Goldsboro, you have that vision," he said. "You folks know the commitment and the time that a downtown needs."

But Swink wasn't the only winner that night at the old Helig-Meyers Building on Walnut Street.

There were many others.

The Award of Merit for Historic Preservation went to the city of Goldsboro for its renovation of Historic City Hall.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's First Team Airmen Center won the Volunteer of the Year, and Preservation North Carolina Regional Director Dean Ruedrich won the Advocate of the Year Award.

The award for best downtown design improvement went to Bobby Parker for his renovations to the old Goldsboro Fire Department Headquarters on Ash Street, and the award for best outstanding investor went to the state Department of Transportation's Rail and Transit Division for help in renovations to Union Station.

The Outstanding Merchant of the Year Award went to the Flying Shamrock, and the Most Valuable Supporter Award went to Accu-Copy.

The DGDC Board Member of the Year was awarded to Martha Bryan.

Before the meeting, the DGDC Board met to discuss positions on the board.

Two people are leaving the board -- Kriquette Davis and Lee Smith.

One ad hoc member, a member that has been with the board a year to learn the ropes and make sure it is a good fit for both groups, was appointed to the board -- Glenn Barwick.

Three ad hoc members were appointed -- Allison Taylor, Danny Davis and Steve Kirkman.

Allison Platt, Debbie Pittman and Carolyn Ganly were appointed to the design committee. Jerry Snyder and Nelda Sharkey were appointed to the economic restructuring committee. And, JoJo DeChristopher and Imari Norris were appointed to the promotions committee.