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Bailey moves forward with downtown initiative

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Residents gathered with state officials May 22 to discuss plans to organize and revitalize and develop downtown Bailey.

Bailey was chosen in March as one of 24 towns to participate in Gov. Roy Cooper’s Downtown Strong initiative. Downtown Strong, under the umbrella of the N.C. Department of Commerce, assists towns in implementing downtown economic development strategies through economic vitality, design, promotion and organization actions.

The town is now in the process of forming an executive committee that is solely focused on developing a plan of action to move forward with ideas to bring interest and income downtown.

“Downtown Strong is a self-help, bootstrap program. There’s not anybody out there that’s going to come in and do it for you. It’s something you’ve got to do for yourself. But there’s folks that will help you and guide you,” said Art Jackson, downtown economic development specialist for Downtown Strong.

Jackson said Bailey already has several well-attended events each year, such as the Christmas tree lighting and parade and Miss Bailey pageant that can be capitalized to further revitalize downtown.

“There’s a lot of interest and a lot of things going on here,” Jackson said. “You have good, strong leadership and a lot of energy about doing some things here. We’re looking at what some other communities have done to help structure what you’re going to be doing.”

Aside from the ongoing sewer moratorium, challenges the town is facing include zoning, a lack of beer and wine and the dilapidated hardware store. However, Jackson said that the active work Bailey is doing to face these hurdles is a good sign for the future of the downtown area.

Jackson recommended the town form a partnership of government, businesses and community volunteers moving forward.

“I know that probably already happens here because it’s such a small town, but it would good to find a way to formalize that,” Jackson said. “You can get more done that way.”