Two years of work leads to special designation for Manteo

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On July 1, 2022, the Town of Manteo became a Main Street community.

After two years of work by citizens and the town staff, the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center, a part of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, awarded the Town of Manteo the prestigious Main Street designation.

The state’s Commerce Department oversees the Main Street America national program for North Carolina.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

On that first day of July, the Town of Manteo joined 1,200 other designated towns across the nation and, on that day, was one of four towns to earn the designation in North Carolina.

Also on July 1, the Town of Murphy won a Main Street designation. Manteo-to-Murphy (or Murphy-to-Manteo) now connects two towns designated at Main Street communities.

In 2019, Manteo applied for the Downtown Associate Community Program, the official pathway to Main Street designation. Manteo staff and a 10-member DAC [Downtown Associate Community] Core Team started working with state staff Sept. 25, 2020. What followed were numerous committee meetings. Homework was assigned too.

On June 15, 2022, Manteo’s Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution amending the town’s Code of Ordinances to create a Main Street Advisory Board. On that date, the board appointed five members of the Downtown Associate Community committee to the first Main Street board. Those members are Rashad Daniels, Tanya Lamo, Jessica Sands, Bill Massey and Jamie Anderson.

Anderson, from Downtown Books, spoke at the July 6 board meeting. “The work has just begun,” she said.

On July 6, the commissioners approved four more members for the Main Street Advisory Board: Garrett Basnight, Charles McKenney, Michelle Lewis and Bernley Cook.

The Main Street Program, which was started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, balances economic development with historic preservation.

The program, as described by the state’s commerce department, uses a Four-Point Approach:

– Design: improving the physical aspects to downtown

– Economic Vitality: strengthening existing economic assets; expanding and diversifying the economic base

– Organization: building human and financial resources through public/private partnerships

– Promotion: selling a positive image of downtown based on the community’s assets.

The Main Street program will bring to the town technical assistance with market analysis, economic strategies tailored to the town and training and workshops to help start projects and programs. The Main Street designation opens up economic and community development grants for local businesses and organizations, reports a Manteo media release.

Also at the July 6 meeting, the commissioners appointed town manager Melissa Dickerson as the agent for the Town Hall generator project. In 2019, Manteo applied for a grant from the state’s Department of Public Safety to install a permanent generator to power the entire Town Hall during times of emergencies. The state awarded the grant and will hire the contractor. Dickerson replaces the former town manager James Ayers as the agent. Secondary agent is Kevin Zorc, who is the town’s emergency manager and the writer of the grant request.