10/30/08 — Business numbers at new high downtown

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Business numbers at new high downtown

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 30, 2008 1:46 PM

Goldsboro's downtown was more successful in its economic development efforts in 2007-08 than during any other year since 1984, statistics show.

Each year, the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. compiles numbers on the economic status of the Municipal Service District -- which includes the bulk of the downtown area from Ash to Spruce streets and George to William streets -- to send to the North Carolina Main Street program, which promotes downtown revitalization through economic development and historic preservation and provides resources for those cities working to boost their downtown areas.

In 2007-2008, there were more new businesses downtown, with a sizable increase in the amount invested, than in any year since DGDC officials have sent Main Street records.

"This is by far the best year we've had," DGDC Director Julie Thompson said.

The city joined the Main Street program in 1984, four years after it was created through the state Department of Commerce. The national Main Street program was created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

During the 2007-08 year, 15 new businesses opened in the Municipal Service District -- the Tobacco Outlet, China Taste, Simplistic POS, Gold City Pawn Shop, Brown's Radio Shop, Model Rail Road Club, City Girls Downtown, Redmond's on Center Pub and Grill, R&B Styles, Pittman's Business Solutions, Kinsey Realty, Dollar General, A World of Beauty, Aflac and St. Mary's Home Care. Three businesses were lost -- the Corner Coffee Shop, Barnes Properties and the Record Rack.

The area has had a net gain of 139 businesses and 50 business expansions since 1984, creating 1,588 jobs.

Downtown Goldsboro also realized $5.8 million in public investments during 2007-2008 -- a 92- percent increase in public investment since 2000-01.

Private investments fared far better, with almost half -- $10.4 million -- of the previous total of $23 million being invested during the year.

The statistics do not include the investments made with historic homes in the Neighborhood Plan, a plan set aside to target areas of the city that were for years allowed to decay. The statistics are concerned more with commercial investments, Mrs. Thompson pointed out.

Given the state of the economy over the past year, Mrs. Thompson said she was very happy with the numbers.

"I think our statistics are wonderful. We're strong. We're not so fragile where any bump in the road can throw us off. And there is still interest coming in for investing," she said. "People believe in what we're doing."

She said much of the success comes from private investors who have realized the efforts made by the public sector and are taking advantage of the opportunities created by that public investment.

"When the investment is risky, you need the public sector's commitment and then the private sector will follow," she said.

Mrs. Thompson said she doesn't expect the statistics to stay at the 2007-08 level.

"This was a big year," she said. "We had three really large projects with private investors -- 126 S. James St., the fire department headquarters and the Paramount Theatre. I don't envision projects of that magnitude happening next year."