D’town Clinton welcomes new businesses

For the last three years, Tonya Devaughn operated Lemon Sprouts Health Food Store just outside the city limits. Through a series of events and discussions with Clinton Main Street committee members, her business is now one of four new additions to the downtown.

In mid-March, Clinton Main Street Program Economic Restructuring Committee member and Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce executive director Janna Bass contacted Devaughn when the Lemon Sprouts owner mentioned her interest in relocating from Southeast Boulevard to a more visible area.

Bass recommended downtown Clinton.

After reviewing the Main Street Program’s Business Recruitment Package and Downtown Clinton Available Properties Inventory, Devaughn met with City planner Lyden Williams to learn more about the many benefits of being a downtown business owner and scheduled a time to visit one of the available properties from the inventory.

Following a meeting and tour with the property owner, Devaughn decided to relocate to downtown.

“The Downtown Business Recruitment Package was so informative and did such a great job highlighting the benefits of being a downtown business that in less than a week I made the decision to relocate Lemon Sprouts,” said Devaughn, who was asked several years ago to consider the downtown but decided it wasn’t the right move then. “After reviewing the recruitment package this time around I found out what I have been missing out on by not being downtown. I’m so glad that (Bass) gave me the package because it convinced me to relocate my business.”

The Downtown Clinton Business Recruitment Package and Available Properties Inventory are vital tools for perspective Downtown business owners, and the Economic Restructuring Committee hopes they will continue to be utilized to their full potential.

Devaughn’s business’ story is one the Economic Restructuring Committee hopes to see replicated many times over in the coming year.

Lemon Sprouts Health Food Store at 112 Lisbon St. is one of four downtown businesses opening, relocating or expanding in downtown Clinton this month, with the others being Royal Gifts and Fine China at 117 Wall St.; Silien’s Shop n’ Goods at 108 and 110 Wall St.; and the Sampson County Branch of the NAACP Unit 5446 at 106 Wall St.

The new businesses location to the downtown is a testament to the Economic Restructuring Committee’s efforts to recruit businesses, while the Promotions Committee markets what the Design Committee ensures is a beautified downtown, Main Street officials said.

“I am very pleased with how the resources created by the Clinton Main Street Economic Restructuring committee have played a significant part in the addition of businesses to downtown Clinton,” Bass remarked. “Not only are these tools vital to business recruitment but also business retention. Through this source, potential businesses are able to explore available properties while potential and current businesses discover and are reminded of the great exposure and resources available for their downtown business. I look forward to using this tool for many more opportunities as we work together to strengthen the Downtown Clinton district.”

Fellow Economic Restructuring Committee members Aaron Wilson of Wilson Realty, Amanda Bradshaw, director of the Sampson Community College Small Business Center, Johnny Pridgen, owner of Venture Manor Realty, and Sherri Smith, vice president of NewBridge Bank, all echoed those sentiments.

“As the Small Business Center, we are encouraged by the growth in the local downtown area of Clinton,” Bradshaw said. “Part of this success is due to the efforts of several partnerships that are working to help make small businesses successful. The partnership created between these organizations forges an incredible support system for the small business owner. As a support team, we are committed to helping these businesses continue to grow.”

Pridgen thanked the businesses for utilizing the Business Recruitment Package.

“These incentives will assist in the start-up cost associated with starting and subsidizing a business for continued growth.”

It is vital that all citizens understand the incentives that are available to downtown merchants, both existing and prospective, Smith added.

“During conversations, we’re always listening for clues and can point these potential candidates in the direction to take advantage of these benefits,” she remarked

There is no better time for a new or existing business to take advantage of a thriving area such as the downtown, Wilson pointed out.

“Through the hard work of many people who have a passion for downtown Clinton,” he attested, “there is a huge opportunity for any business, big or small, to thrive downtown.”

The Downtown Clinton Business Recruitment Package and Available Properties Inventory are available online at www.downtownclinton.com as well as at the Clinton Main Street Program’s office, at 227 Lisbon St. in Clinton. Planning Director/Main Street Manager Mary Rose and Planner Lyden Williams are available to assist new and existing business owners with further information about the incentive programs.