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Talk of Our Towns 

All America City Quilt visits North Carolina winners

Some of Dunn’s All America City delegates with the quilt. Photo Credit: Town of Dunn
Each year hundreds of towns across the nation compete in the All America City competition and only 10 earn the distinction. It's an honor for a state to bring home even one All America title, but North Carolina brought home three in 2013 because of Garner, Dunn and Thomasville!

Finalists are asked to submit a square for the All America City quilt that makes a stop in each of the 20 finalists' hometowns for a few days. The squares represent something special about each town. In September, the quilt started its cross-country tour and finally made its first North Carolina stop in Dunn in April.

On April 16, the City of Dunn hand delivered the quilt to the City of Garner. The Trophy Case in Dunn created the quilt square that the Dunn Area Tourism Authority designed. The square references Dunn’s All America City competition theme, “Dunn – We have what you’re looking for.”

Pictured is Linda Junk, who created Garner's All America City
Quilt square. Photo Credit: Town of Garner
Linda Junk crafted Garner's square that depicts iconic images of the town, including the caboose and water tower in downtown, the legendary White Deer at White Deer Park Nature Center, the Garner Veterans Memorial and Lake Benson Park.

After its time in Garner, it was delivered to Thomasville on May 5 to display at the Chamber of Commerce.

State Tax Receipts from Visitor Spending Surpass $1 Billion

Governor Pat McCrory announced the North Carolina tourism industry generated record visitor spending in 2013. The $20.2 billion in domestic visitor spending represents a 4.1 percent increase over 2012.

“The growth of our tourism industry gives us a lot to celebrate,” Governor McCrory said. “We attracted 52.5 million travelers from across the United States last year because of our great tourist destinations. The money they spent while visiting our mountains, beaches, cities and places in between directly supported nearly 200,000 jobs and more than 40,000 businesses. We can be proud that the quality of North Carolina’s travel experiences makes us the sixth most visited state in the nation.”

Governor McCrory, who proclaimed May 3-11, 2014, as Tourism Week in North Carolina, discussed the new figures from the U.S. Travel Association at a news conference on Thursday, May 8 at the Outer Banks. The findings from the annual study were also presented by Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at the hotel and waterpark Great Wolf Lodge and Secretary Susan Kluttz at the Civil War farmhouse Bennett Place in Durham.

Preliminary results from the study show that direct tourism employment grew 2.1 percent and state tax receipts rose 4 percent to top $1 billion as a result of visitor spending. Visitors spent more than $55 million per day in North Carolina last year and contributed more than $4.4 million per day in state and local tax revenues as a result of that spending. 

“Everyone in North Carolina can feel the benefits of the tourism industry’s success,” Secretary Decker said. “Tourism means jobs in all of the state’s 100 counties. In addition, each North Carolina household saves $435 annually in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by visitor expenditures.”

As the leader of the agency that oversees 27 historic sites, seven history museums, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Symphony and other cultural institutions, Secretary Kluttz joined the celebration of tourism as an industry vital to the state’s economic stability and growth.

“Cultural tourism showcases the uniquely Carolina places, faces, history and art and is an integral part of tourism,” Secretary Kluttz said. "History, the arts and culture provide numerous benefits to our state’s economy by stimulating job creation, attracting investments and motivating visitors. We are proud to partner with Governor McCrory and the Department of Commerce in welcoming visitors from across the state and from around the world.”

Tourism Week in North Carolina is part of National Travel & Tourism Week, which also runs May 3-11. The state’s nine Welcome Centers also hosted activities throughout the week.

Wilmington holds Historic Preservation Tax Credit event

The City of Wilmington held a press conference April 25 highlighting the importance of the North Carolina Historic Tax Preservation Credit. The credit is set to expire at the end of this year as a result of tax reform changes enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly last summer. 

 Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and New Hanover Commissioner Beth Dawson speak in favor of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit at a media event in downtown Wilmington. Photo credit: City of Wilmington
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, Historic Wilmington Foundation Director George Edwards and other officials gave information about how the tax credit has contributed to local economic growth. According to Historic Wilmington Foundation, the tax credits have spurred more than $46 million worth of investment in local historic homes and commercial properties such as the David building on Front Street.

“A lot of the historic structures that you see in downtown Wilmington, in the historic district of our community, would not have [been preserved] without the historic tax credit,” Mayor Bill Saffo said from a podium outside the David building, which has involved more than $1 million in rehabilitation investment since 2006.

The Davis building houses 12 small businesses according to the Port City Daily newspaper.

According to the NC Department of Commerce, the historic preservation tax credit contributes $124.5 million annually to the state gross domestic product, and more than 210 historical buildings have been renovated using the credit.

Additional benefits of building renovation are reduction in landfill waste, creation of new, local construction jobs and increased property value for owners which results in increased local government revenue.

Following the press conference, Edwards conducted a brief tour of nearby historic properties that have benefited from the tax credit. 

Stallings Mayor issues National Poetry Month proclamation

For National Poetry Month in April, Stallings Mayor Wyatt Dunn issued a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing this literary commemoration on behalf of the town. Dunn officially acknowledged how poetry is an essential part of the arts and humanities in the town and state, as he joined mayors from various towns and cities throughout North Carolina, at the request from Poet Kym Gordon Moore.

The Academy of American Poets inaugurated National Poetry Month in 1996, which is celebrated every April in the United States. Schools, libraries, publishers, booksellers and poets throughout the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Individuals and organizations participate through readings, book displays, festivals, workshops and other poetry-related events to commemorate a genre that is reviving itself as a viable contributor to the development of creativity, awareness and education around the nation.

The Town of Stallings also co-hosted the 2014 Earth and Arbor Day Festival held on April 26, with the neighboring town of Indian Trail. The festival included a poetry contest for elementary students, poster contest for middle school students and photo contest for high school students. The poetry contest was open to students from Indian Trail and Stallings elementary schools, and students read their poems at the festival in honor of National Poetry Month. The winners of all three contests were announced at the festival, and all photo and poster entries were on display during the event.

“We’re doing children’s handprints with an Earth Day poem going in the middle of the mural this year,” said Dena Sabinske, Stallings’ parks and recreation director. “It’s a good way to get everybody involved.”

Davidson wins North Carolina Land Trust award

Davidson was awarded the Government Conservation Partner of the Year award by the North Carolina Land Trust for promoting conservation efforts. The town embraces the preservation of open space, has hundreds of acres of parks and miles of greenways, is bicycle and pedestrian friendly and values the overall health of its citizens.

Derek Halberg of Tar River Land Conservancy and Roy Alexander of Davidson Lands Conservancy display the award for the town of Davidson. Photo credit: Davidson Lands Conservancy
The town’s planning ordinance, which received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Award in 2004, makes specific recommendations about maintaining and preserving open space. Among the core values identified in the plan are preserving undeveloped rural areas, working with neighboring jurisdictions to preserve contiguous and valuable open space, protecting scenic views along greenways and roads in rural areas, and monitoring and minimizing development impacts on significant ecosystems.

Roy Alexander, Executive Director of Davidson Lands Conservancy, is proud that the town recognizes the benefits of, and its responsibility for, providing green infrastructure.

“Through its development ordinances, stream buffer protections, tree canopy policies, and other progressive actions, the town will continue to pursue its adopted goal of protecting 50 percent of its area as open space. We are thankful for the town’s commitment to open space and natural areas and look forward to helping the town reach its goal.”

The town has 167 acres of developed park land and 3.8 miles of developed greenway. It owns 246 additional acres and committed to three more miles of greenway. Between publicly owned and privately owned conservation easements, nearly 700 contiguous acres are protected in Davidson. In addition, the town received Tree City USA Recertification for 2013 and was designated as a Walk Friendly Community, joining the ranks with 44 other pedestrian friendly communities around the country.