Yanceyville to revitalize downtown

Mayor Alvin Foster and Town Manager Bryan Collie were among the group of individuals who attended the last Downtown Strong Community Meeting on Thursday, May 30 at the Yanceyville Municipal Building.

In 2018, the Town of Yanceyville was selected to by the North Carolina Department of Commerce to participate in Downtown Strong, a new initiative of the N.C. Main Street and Rural Planning Center that provides downtown revitalization expertise to selected incorporated rural communities.

Diane Young, with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, said she has been working with the Town of Yanceyville to help revitalize the downtown area.

“The goal of the program is to bring economic development resources to what are called tier 1 and tier 2 communities, “she explained. “Those towns that express an interest in downtown revitalization apply to be a Downtown Strong community and Yanceyville was one of 24, that were selected to be a part of this program.”

“The Main Street program is a proven method of revitalization downtown and was developed in 1980,” Young continued. “It has a four-point approach with economic vitality, design, promotion and organization which is the most important because it is the foundation of your committee for revitalization.”

Young said there are several opportunities for the town to make the program a success and that downtown benefits from a positive county and town relationship.

“The Town of Yanceyville is a major play for revitalization, because you have made your investments with the pavilion and the planning of a park,” she said. “The town really does support this downtown revitalization effort.”

She also said having free or low-cost things to do would play a vital role in bringing people to the downtown area.

“You really want to attract children to downtown Yanceyville,” Young said. “They are your consumers moving forward. You want them to have that emotional attachment and fond memories of downtown.”

Despite having opportunities for enrichment, the town also faces several obstacles.

Young said there are different thoughts about change from citizens.

“That’s common in small towns and larger cities,” she explained. “There can sometimes be a feeling of anti-change, with the thought of we just want to stay the same.”

She also said getting funding is always a challenge for small towns as well as cell phone coverage.

“Funding for improvements can be a major obstacle,” Young said. “The [Caswell County] Civic Center while a great asset has obstacles. One is you can’t serve alcohol on site which limits the number of events that are held there and there’s also parking issues.”

Young said part of the liabilities Yanceyville faces include the mindset of leaving the area, digital inclusion, lack of shade, and sidewalk maintenance.

“Inconsistent and inconvenient store hours are a liability,” Young explained. “People make it a point to come into Yanceyville for a specific store or specific product and if the store just happens not to be opened that day, that’s a problem.”

She also said the town has a lot of positive assets that will help them with the revitalization process.

“You have a wonderful coffee shop, Young said. “The lighting of the Arboretum, I saw some pictures of that, spectacular!”

Young said the pavilion and the concert series and the tree light and ice skating are a good addition to the town.

“You have something that you can say belongs to you [Yanceyville],” she said.

The meeting concluded with ideas of how to move forward with the revitalization process for ramping up Yanceyville.

Currently, the town is working on finding a way to increase Search Engine Optimization or SEO to draw out-of-towners into town.