TARBORO — (This is the final article in a series on the challenges facing the Town of Tarboro as the 2013-2014 budget process gets under way. Today: Economic growth and marketing the community.)
There are times when it must have seemed as if the economic deck of cards was stacked against Tarboro. After decades of prosperity, times changed. The list of businesses that either closed or downsized over the last 20 or so years is lengthy and the number of persons affected is in the thousands.
At one time, Tarboro and Edgecombe County was ranked among the nation’s top communities for foreclosures. As recently as 2007, there were 430 foreclosures and that number was down between 20 and 50 percent from 2003.
For the second year in a row, the town’s economic fortunes seem to be on the rebound.
Despite the town’s spending less than $140,000 on planning and economic development in 2012, the results are promising.
In 2012, Superior Essex held the ribbon cutting on its $50 million facility on Anaconda Road and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital began a major renovation and broke ground on a much-needed emergency department expansion. In addition, Spongex celebrated five years in the community.
Also, the county’s $8 million renovation of the new Health Department/Department of Social Services was completed.
Late last year, Town Planner Josh Edmondson confirmed that Walgreens was coming to town and that Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General was looking at another location in Tarboro.
When members of the town council met with staff in a budgeting retreat on Feb. 22, Edmondson confirmed that Walgreens was still on the way and that Dollar General had completed a deal on property at the southwest corner of Wilson Street and Western Boulevard.
While no visible work has bee done at the planned Walgreens site — at the southeast corner of North Main and Howard Avenue — the clearing of timber for site preparation is well under way on the Dollar General property.
There was other good news shared as well.
Construction is well under way for the new location of Bryan Drugs on Hospital Drive, after it vacates its long-standing location in the Vidant Multispecialty Clinic.
Edmondson also noted the construction of the Hunter Hill Apartments, the second phase of North East Carolina Prep School’s $12 million project and Nash Building Systems move to a long-vacant building on Anaconda Road.
He also old council members that there was increased interest in the former Hilma Country Club.
“We’ve had someone very interested in the corner at Western and Wilson,” he said, adding, “We think that’s CVS.”
Additionally, he said a developer was looking at what was once the No. 1 hole at Hilma as the possible location of a retail development. He also mentioned the possibility of a Sheetz convenience center locating on the empty lot south of Bojangles on Highway 258.
Other than the town’s spending of slightly more than $10,000 per month on planning and economic development, the only other organized support comes from Carolinas Gateway Partnership and the economic development arm of Electricities.
Edmondson told council members that Electricities had spent time in the community recently and had taken inventory of available facilities and strengths within the community.
Edmondson has also distributed a survey among the downtown merchants and is in the process of collecting those. He said the town is also developing a smart phone app that would help in the attraction of visitors to the community.