The City of Lenoir Main Street Department won four awards during the 2019 N.C. Main Street Conference held this week in Salisbury, NC. Lenoir won more awards this year than any other city across the state.
Lenoir won awards for Best Innovation; Best Volunteer Recruitment, Training and Recognition; Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series; and Best Image-Building Campaign.
Mayor Joe Gibbons said he was proud of the awards and of the people who worked hard on the programs and events.
“It was kind of like being state champions of the North Carolina Main Street communities,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the awards are proof that efforts to make Downtown Lenoir a destination are paying off.
“I’m very proud of our Main Street Department, of Kaylynn and Kyle, and the work they’re doing,” Gibbons said. “I think we won so many awards because of how our staff, the Council, and the community work together.”
Downtown Economic Development Director Kaylynn Horn said she was thrilled to receive so many awards.
“We’ve had some great programs and events during the past couple of years, and I was hopeful that we would win,” Horn said. “But I was thrilled to find out that we had won four awards.”
Horn said that by “we,” she means the entire community.
“It takes a lot of people to make a great downtown,” Horn said. “It takes business owners, volunteers, city staff, a supportive Council, and residents. We all have to work together, support each other, be flexible when we can, and pat each other on the back.”
Downtown Lenoir won Best Image-Building Campaign for “Together We Create,” downtown’s Branding Campaign. Gibbons said the slogan is a reminder that it takes a team to make downtown work.
“The slogan ‘Together We Create’ truly characterizes Lenoir,” Gibbons said. “We have to work together to make good things happen, and we do that in Lenoir.”
Gibbons said every city department pitches in to put on our festivals and events, and he appreciates the support of businesses and residents.
Horn said the brand has resonated with community because it’s genuine.
“Lenoir was built on furniture manufacturing, on creating great products,” Horn said. “We still manufacture excellent furniture in Lenoir, but we also create other great things. We create electronics, food, beer, art, music. That’s why ‘Together We Create’ won, because it’s real. It’s an authentic identity for Downtown Lenoir.”
Downtown also won Best Innovation for the City’s “Moving Lenoir to the Second Floor – Mixed Use Redevelopment Program.” The program gives grants to help with architectural designs and second-floor renovations. Main Street also offers façade grants for building owners.
“Be a Part of What Makes This Work” won for Best Volunteer Recruitment, Training and Recognition program. Horn said Lenoir’s volunteers have driven and grown the program. A few years ago, Lenoir had about 25 volunteers. Today, the program has about 125 volunteers.
“We could not do the things we do without our wonderful volunteers,” Horn said. “Whenever we finish an event, they say, ‘What’s our next opportunity?’ That kind of enthusiasm and love for the community is priceless.”
The Downtown Lenoir Main Street Volunteers were named the City’s 2018 Main Street Champions. During the conference, NC Department of Commerce staff recognized Becky Gibbons, Terese Almquist, and Mary Ruth Horn, who attended to represent all the City’s volunteers.
The Carolina Tattoo and Arts Gathering won Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series. Event organizers Chris and Kristy Hollifield were able to attend the conference and accept the award during the awards ceremony.
Main Street Coordinator Kyle Case said the success of the Tattoo Gathering surprised a lot of people, including him.
“When I first heard about the event, I thought, ‘A tattoo festival? … in Lenoir?’” Case said. “But the event is really popular and draws a lot of new people into downtown.”
Horn said the tattoo festival brings in a different crowd, and is an example of what can happen when people think outside the box.
“A lot of people really enjoy the tattoo festival,” Horn said. “It crosses stereotypes and brings people together. It’s a fantastic event, and we’re glad to have it in Lenoir.”
Find out more about the festival at www.carolinatattooandartsgathering.com
During the awards ceremony, one audience member said, “Downtown Lenoir is a happening place!”
There IS a lot a lot happening in Lenoir, but Gibbons and Horn said the work isn’t over.
“We have a lot of energy in Downtown Lenoir right now,” Horn said. “We’ve had several businesses open. People are buying and developing properties. The community is coming downtown to eat and to shop. We need to keep this momentum going and we can do that by supporting each other and working together.”
Gibbons said having a healthy downtown is necessary for having a strong city.
“During the conference, Governor Cooper mentioned the state’s new ‘Downtown Strong’ initiative, and that’s very important,” Gibbons said. “We hold these events and invest in downtown because we want to do what we can to improve the quality of life for our residents. We want to help build a strong downtown and a strong city that our residents will want to call home.”
To volunteer and be a part of what’s happening in Downtown Lenoir, visit https://downtownlenoirnc.com/create-with-us/ and click the “Join Us” link at the bottom of the page, or call 828-757-2177.