PILOT MOUNTAIN — Revitalizing Main Street in Pilot Mountain, a goal that town officials have set for many years, may be a few steps closer to may finally come to fruition.
Last week commissioners and other town officials spent a few days in Shelby at the NC Main Street Conference.
The Main Street Conference is the state’s largest downtown revitalization event in North Carolina, according to the program’s website. The group boasts the gathering offered learning sessions, tours and opportunities for networking with downtown professionals from all across the state.
Pilot Mountain officials have been trying for several years to get into the program, according to Mayor Dwight Atkins. However, due to some budget changes within the Department of Commerce the application wasn’t approved.
The most recent application submitted on behalf of the town will be for a part-time position through the Downtown Associates program, added Atkins. Prior grant applications had asked for enough money for a fulltime downtown coordinator.
The position, if approved, will provided marketing for the town of Pilot Mountain while working with town officials to help brand the downtown area, explained Atkins.
The board has not formally voted to submit the application, however. Michael Boaz, town manager, estimated this action would happen in April.
“The application will be due by May 1,” stated Boaz. Also noting that officials will not see the application until March 30.
“This program really helps as far as quality of life for downtown,” stated Atkins. “We hope to develop downtown’s identity and to be able to bring state park visitors into town.”
Visitation to Pilot Mountain State Park has climbed from 58,000 visitors a year on the state park’s “birthday” year in 1968 to 770,000 visitors a year in 2016, increasing around 100,000 to 200,000 visitors every ten years, according to Matt Windsor, state park superintendent.
“Successful towns make the most of their assets,” stated Commissioner Evan Cockerham. “I think it’s important we connect ourselves to the state park and rebrand our downtown.”
During Cockerham’s visit to Shelby, he completed a walk-through of downtown Shelby.
“Each store front had little flag hanging outside the door stating they were open, so you could look down the street and see if a store you wanted to visit was open” explained Cockerham.
“It’s neat little things like that, that aren’t that expensive that can improve a downtown.”
Overall Cockerham stated his biggest take-away from attending the conference was, “Pilot has a lot going for it, we need to, as elected offiicals, utilize what we have.”