Task Force explores potential businesses

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

MURFREESBORO – What do Dunkin’ Donuts, Blimpe, Dairy Queen and Quiznos all have in common?

They’re all businesses that have the potential to make their home in Murfreesboro should the right investors be willing.

Gathered around several tables in the Chowan Room at Chowan College, here Thursday, members of the Murfreesboro Economic Development Task Force mulled over a host of possible franchise opportunities that could be considered in the revitalization plans for the downtown area.

After surveying various groups in the community to determine what types of businesses they wanted to see, members of the task force began seeking out available buildings/property so they could contact the owners for more information.

Some of the properties brought up during the discussion included the space between The Woolery and what used to be the &uot;Firezone&uot; on Main Street, the old child care center across from McDonald’s, Zacks, PC Mechanics, the space above NAPA, Indian Queen Trading Company, Small Motors, Bill & Berna’s Fashion, the brick building adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce, Mid County Motors, Meherrin Tire, the old MST Service Station, the building beside Napoli’s and several others.

&uot;We need to be looking at a way to attract people to the area and getting the citizens of the area to support it,&uot; said Murfreesboro Town Council member Bill Stephens.

Director of College Relations at Chowan College Sarah Ward offered the suggestion that businesses visibly demonstrate their support for the college by placing items of interest to the academic body.

&uot;When I think about Murfreesboro’s revitalization, I envision something similar to Franklin Street at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where all the stores have spirit and are supportive of the school,&uot; she said.

Ward added, &uot;When you have that kind of partnership it perpetuates throughout the campus and the community where the business community and student enrollment are in a direct correlation. It’s a circle-like philosophy.&uot;

She is also investigating the possibility of getting interns from East Carolina University to help with the execution of the plans, once they are decided upon.

One of the members offered up a potential motto that could be posted in store front windows tentatively reading, &uot;Shop at your local stores, they’re your neighbors.&uot;

As a member of the town council, Stephens agreed to meet with Chowan College President Dr. Christopher White to discuss how the town could better unite with the school to affect a more positive outcome with regard to the economic development of the area.

&uot;It is my hope that these meetings will help us to answer some of the questions we have and help us funnel our energies towards a common goal that will serve us all,&uot; said Task Force Chair Lynn Johnson. &uot;Change is hard and it’s not generally embraced well, but we need to hunker down and just do it.&uot;

The task force designated three of its members to help develop a mission statement for the revitalization and distributed information among its members to attend an informational meeting next week in Greenville regarding available sources of grants and loans.

It was also twice noted that none of the local lending institutions have attended these meetings. There are presently three banks operating in Murfreesboro.

The idea of hosting a small business incubator similar to Ahoskie’s (where Mug Shotz currently is) was also thrown out on the table along with posting fund raising signs throughout the area, soliciting help from civic groups and other organizations.

Involvement from students and tapping into local talents in the area were discussed, as were plans for a gazebo/town square.

&uot;None of us is fully using what God has blessed us with,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;We all have something we can give.&uot;

The group’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 10.