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Streetscape project kicks off period of economic growth for HandMade Small Town program participant

Oct. 28, 2013 – New businesses and increased tourism dollars have poured into West Jefferson thanks to a streetscaping project completed in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Transportation. 

West Jefferson is a historic mountain town in western North Carolina with a population of 1,300. Its main street was lined with empty storefronts in recent years, and the town needed to find a way to attract more businesses and shoppers.

To that end, West Jefferson partnered with the NCDOT to improve the roads and landscape of its downtown area, and change traffic lights to stop signs to make it more pedestrian friendly. The improvements paid off – over the last two years, ten new businesses have opened, tourism dollars have steadily increased, and the residential and commercial vacancies have dropped from 33 to five.

West Jefferson has been a participant in HandMade in America’s Small Town Revitalization Program since 1997. The program provides western North Carolina small towns with hands-on technical assistance focused around helping towns recognize and capitalize on their local assets to build both the economy and culture of the community.

HandMade, an Initiative partner, works with 14 small towns in 11 counties which have attracted $52 million to the region and created hundreds of new jobs since the program’s inception.

“West Jefferson is one of HandMade in America’s Small Towns, and we are very proud to watch them take these incredible strides to make some very visible improvements to their downtown,” said Helene Herbert, development manager for HandMade in America. “HandMade provides ongoing technical assistance to our Small Towns, and we want to congratulate this community on accomplishing this important revitalization project in collaboration with the NCDOT.”

For more information on West Jefferson’s streetscape project, watch the video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t1Iuy2QVGk. For more information on HandMade in America’s Small Town Revitalization Program, visit www.handmadeinamerica.org.

The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.ncinitiative.org.