U.S. Representative Larry Kissell (NC-08) recently announced a $100,000 U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant for Central Park N.C. The grant will be used to help foster economic development and increase private investment by supporting small and mid-sized businesses.
Central Park N.C. — originally known as the Yadkin-Pee Dee Lakes Project — was formed in 1993 by a consensus of leaders from the region to develop a strategy to preserve the natural and cultural assets of central North Carolina, using them to create a sustainable local economy. In 2000, Central Park N.C. published “A Strategy for North Carolina’s Central Park” — a blueprint for the development of a new economy for the region based on heritage and cultural tourism development and outdoor recreation opportunities.
“I’m so proud we were able to secure this important funding for our region,” Kissell said. “Bringing more of our hard-earned tax dollars back home to the district will better our communities, stimulating local economic growth and small business opportunities. I’ll continue to fight to bring our tax dollars back home to help get our economy back on track.”
The Central Park N.C. region encompasses Anson, Davidson, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan and Stanly counties. The group works to promote a new economy based on the sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources of the Central Park N.C. region, particularly in innovation, agriculture and clean energy industries.
In 2005, Central Park N.C. began STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise in a former hosiery mill in the small town of Star. STARworks is home to several for-profit and non-profit businesses, focusing on renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and creative arts-related businesses.
“Congressman Kissell has always been incredibly supportive of small business in our area, and has also been a great supporter of promoting the region’s outdoor recreational activities,” said Central Park N.C. Executive Director Nancy Gottovi. “We are grateful for his work to secure this EDA funding for Central Park N.C.”
Richmond County Manager and Director of Economic Development Rick Sago said, “It is good news that Congressman Kissell has been able to help secure this funding. Anything that can be done to enhance economic development and assist small and midsized businesses in the N.C. Central Park Region is certainly good news for Richmond County.”
“I’m glad they received it,” said Richmond County Economic Development Team Member Jim McCaskill. McCaskill has been a team member for nearly 10 years, and is familiar with the development of Central Park N.C.
“I’m not sure what they plan to do with the money,” he said. “They are quite an interesting group. They are not a major player in our region but they focus on small businesses. I can’t recall any recent programs with any direct benefit to Richmond County.”
McCaskill said Central Park N.C. is headquartered in Star, where he said an old textile mill was converted into office space, which McCaskill called the business incubator.
“The incubator, while located there, (is) available to assist artisans and craftsman,” said McCaskill. “They have worked with Arts Richmond.”
McCaskill said many small projects take place there, such as glass blowing, making materials for potters and geothermal heating. They also have outdoor recreation areas, with hiking, biking and kayaking trails.
To learn more about Central Park N.C. visit its website at www.centralparknc.org or call 910-428-9001.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.