Downtown Waynesville a model of success

Downtown Waynesville was recently recognized as a model of success at the annual NC Main Street Conference this year, titled Main Street: Two Billion Reasons to Celebrate. 

Of the more than 100 officially designated Main Street Communities in the state, Waynesville was one of eight chosen as a model of success for others to emulate.

Over the past two decades, downtown Waynesville has seen 647 net new jobs and 169 net new businesses. The town has also seen a total of $41.7 million in private investment.

Statewide, the cumulative private investment figures of Main Street communities passed the $2 billion mark. The number of new jobs hit 19,000.

Don Rykema, a principal of the PlaceEconomics consulting firm, saw the results right away.

“One walk down Main Street in Waynesville and it becomes quickly apparent that this is a community committed to quality,” Rykema said. “Quality shows up in major projects, like the restoration of the historic town hall. It also shows up at a small scale, like the benches, planters, and even trash receptacles.

Rykema, also the author of The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leaders Guide and an adjunct professor in the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Pennsylvania, was hired by N.C. Main Street Program to analyze the economic impact of the program. He visited many of the participating towns, including Waynesville, within the past year.

“And the emphasis on quality is not limited to the built environment,” Rykema continued his Waynesville assessment. “Window displays in businesses, art in the galleries, and food in the restaurants are all about quality. So are the events featuring crafters or musicians or artisans. Waynesville is a success story program in part because, for nearly 30 years in the Main Street program, it has refused to settle for second-best.”

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