Business leaders in Pineville are working to create a better connection between stores and town leaders while also trying to bring in more funds to support the downtown area.
The Pineville Downtown Merchants Association will file for nonprofit status early next year as the group seeks to secure grants to benefit the town’s historic Main Street and increase the number of partnerships between local businesses and town government. Bill Mcconnell, who spoke on behalf of the association at a recent Pineville Town Council meeting, said becoming a nonprofit could “be key to helping revitalizing downtown.”
A key part of that could be through utilizing the N.C. Main Street Program, which helps towns stimulate economic development through historic preservation. Saluda, located near Hendersonville, is a town that has succeeded in those regards, Mcconnell said. It’s also a town that shares a lot in common with Pineville.
“A train track goes right though the middle of the town,” Mcconnell said of Saluda. The train used to make a stop in the town, and businesses grew to accommodate the train traffic. But when the train ceased stopping in Saluda, the town had to evolve to survive.
“They had to look at ways to reinvent themselves,” Mcconnell said. “That meant trying to open doors further with town leaders, so (Saluda business leaders) got together and said they were going to … talk to (town leaders) and tell them where they were seeing successes and also where they were seeing opportunities to get a little help.”
If you walk through Saluda now, Mcconnell said, there is a mix of different types of merchants. “They saved their downtown,” he said.
Pineville is in line to do the same thing. Part of that would mean enhancing the visual quality of downtown, Mcconnell said, starting with storefronts but including landscaping, signage and store graphics through working with public partners, such as the town, to strengthen the local economy and also “rekindle excitement in downtown.”
George Fowler, who is serving as the town’s interim mayor until mayor-elect John “Jack” Edwards is sworn in, said the association’s plans are a big step toward creating a diverse and strong group of downtown tenants.
“Main Street is the identity of Pineville,” Fowler said.
Mcconnell also would like to see businesses become more involved in town events, such as the tree lighting, farmers’ market and other events held through Pineville Parks & Recreation.
“We know that working together works best,” Mcconnell said. “What we need to figure out now is how to put the basic cornerstones in place. Those are the nonprofit status and the N.C. Main Street program.”
There are around a dozen businesses in the association, which is made up of stores in the historic district between the railroad track and the corner of Main and Dover streets. In addition to looking at Saluda for ideas on revitalizing downtown, Mcconnell said the association has looked at Matthews and Monroe for