ROSEBORO — The NC STEP and Roseboro Small Town Main Street committees have made great strides in the last year to work and promote the growth of the town and enhance the quality of life for all of the town’s citizens.
Since joining and becoming one entity last year, the committees have been instrumental in helping the town complete several projects, all of which have helped improve the quality and appearance of the area.
According to Lynn West, committee chairperson, Roseboro has been involved in both STEP and STMS for several years. While the STEP program is designed to aid in economic development of the entire town, the STMS program focuses on a designated downtown district. Both committees and programs shared the same goal.
“We were awarded a large grant from STEP that allowed the town to create a brand, replace banners, erect wayfinder and welcome signs, and complete several other projects,” West shared. “After the grant money was spent in 2014-2015 fiscal year, it made sense to combine the two organizations since both groups were composed of essentially the same people.”
In 2008, Roseboro became part of the Small Town Main Street (STMS) program, which was designed to focus mainly on the downtown area. According to Roseboro mayor Alice Butler, the program is currently not accepting new towns, so Roseboro is very fortunate to be one of their 30 active communities.
STMS helps with development assistance by assisting in organizational development, market analysis, business assistance, promotions and design. This program is managed by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
In 2012, Roseboro was awarded the N.C. Small Town Economic Prosperity grant of $125,000 total. Through this grant, citizens of Roseboro developed a plan that focused on three strategies. According to Butler, the program worked to attract residential development, business support, renovation incentives, commercial building marketing, public area improvements and economic development organizations. Strategy two goals of the grant worked on improving the “quality of life” for both current citizens and future citizens, while the third strategy developed a marketing, signage and communications program for Roseboro.
“Both of these programs have helped Roseboro by bringing citizens and business owners together with a common goal of making sure Roseboro continues to offer the quality of life its citizens and businesses deserve,” the mayor attested.
Prior to combining, the STMS committee changed the downtown zoning ordinance to grant permission for businesses to operate on the ground floor of their structure, while using the second floor as a residence. Through the STMS, the facade grant program has been established, which is now included in the town’s budget and works to improve the overall aesthetics of the business.
Since the STMS program committee conducted a retail leakage report in 2009, Butler said both Rupert’s Furniture and Railroad Street Steakhouse have opened in downtown Roseboro to address some of the needs found in the study.
Through the NC STEP grant, the town has been able to create a website, new branding for the town, erect new signage and landscaping.
Other highlights and accomplishments from the committee include:
• participation in workshops provided by Amanda Bradshaw from the SCC Small Business Center;
• participation in Google My Business Workshop;
• contacting downtown property owners volunteering to spruce up and make window displays for empty storefronts;
joining the Sampson County Barn Quilt Trail by erecting a barn quilt on the old train depot;
• working with Duke University on a series of documentaries about the town;
• working with the North Carolina Mountains to Sea Trail to bring the trail through the Roseboro area;
• working with elected officials and local businesses to convince the Department of Transportation to build an overpass at the intersection of N.C. 242 and 24;
• hosted the Roseboro Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and;
• built and entered a 125th birthday float into the Christmas parade.
“One of our main objectives is to revitalize the downtown area, so much of our focus will be to contact property owners and encourage them to rent or sell storefronts to new businesses,” West said.
This, West added, is in line with the vision statement that says, “Roseboro STMS/STEP envisions a growing town where every citizen can ‘take root and bloom’ socially, physically, spiritually, and economically.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.