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Bailey to create downtown revitalization group

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BAILEY — The town Board of Commissioners voted Monday to create a downtown development organization.

The N.C. Department of Commerce’s Main Street and Rural Planning Center will facilitate establishment of the revitalization organization; provide guidance, tools and initial training; and help develop implementation plans, according to the agreement presented by Bruce Naegelen, a community economic development planner with the agency.

The board voted unanimously Monday to approve the agreement during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

For Naegelen’s help, the town will only have to pay around $150 for mileage so Naegelen can drive to town for five meetings at around $30 a trip.

“You’re already paying for the labor with taxes,” Naegelen said.

The town’s vacant buildings don’t reflect the residents’ pride and they hurt the local economy, Naegelen told commissioners.

Positive points provided by residents in Naegelen’s report include that Bailey has relatively cheap housing, empty buildings are opportunities and “new town leaders are hip.”

Negative comments include that the town has a lack of businesses and broadband internet access needs improvement.

Commissioner Dwan Finch asked Naegelen about engaging volunteers.

“Getting participation is going to be...interesting,” Finch said.

Naegelen said the committee will use the local newspaper and social media to build interest and ask for help.

“Know your plan, ask for help and recognize what people have done,” Naegelen said. “That could be a pizza and beer party or a plaque.”

The board appointed Walter Wells to head up the steering committee to create the downtown organization.

Wells retired from AT&T around 20 years ago and moved from Raleigh to Bailey. He now serves as chairman of the town’s planning board.

“Since the recession rebound, things are moving our way,” Wells said. “The more people we get involved, the better. Things will begin to happen organically.”

The downtown organization will act as an advisory board to the commissioners.

Subcommittees will be set up for promoting the town and other objectives. Putting the organization together should take about a year, Naegelen said.