Economy & Downtown

Chapel Hill's downtown has long benefited from its proximity to a captive audience of University students without cars. While downtowns around the country have been failing, ours has survived fairly well. However, we have seen an increase in the number of chain stores locating downtown, and instability in the Downtown Economic Development Corporation. In the near future, we will see new Town-directed development on two major parking lots have a big impact.
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Carrboro's downtown has also done better than many towns of comparable size, thanks largely to the presence of Weaver Street Market and progressive shoppers from the rest of the county. The Board of Aldermen has been addressing the evolution of the downtown, and have established a number of community resources in the downtown area including free wireless Internet access, and a low-power radio station.

County Tries Again, Hires Local for Economic Development

And for the second time this year we have an announcement about the County's hire of a new economic development director. Knowing nothing else about him, here's my favorite part so far: "[Steve] Brantley, who has lived in Orange County for the last 25 years..."

Brantley Named Director of Economic Development for Orange County

HILLSBOROUGH, NC – Frank Clifton, Orange County Manager, announced the appointment of Mark Steven (Steve) Brantley as Economic Development Director for Orange County starting September 19, 2011.

Project Connect 2011

Support Project Connect 2011 and Help End Homelessness in Orange County!



5th annual Project Connect will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2011
from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM at Hargraves Community Center in Chapel Hill in
Orange County. Project Connect is a one-day, one-stop center to provide people experiencing-or at risk of experiencing-homelessness with a broad range of services
including housing, employment, health and dental care, mental health
care, veterans' and social service benefits, legal services, and more.Formerly
called Project Homeless Connect, event coordinators changed the name
this year to reach out to more community members in need of services in
an effort to prevent homelessness. Organizers expect an increase
in guests this year as a reflection of the increase in need seen in our
community. Expected this year are 250 guests with over 50 social
service agencies and 300 volunteers participating. Since 2007 the event
has served over 700 people in Orange County. The event is a key strategy
of Orange County's Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.



Thurs, October 13, 2011

9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Hargraves Community Center, Chapel Hill 

 Visit our website for complete details: 


Sign Up to Volunteer Today! 

Volunteer positions are available for all schedules, abilities, and
interests. You can volunteer on the day of the event (the shifts are 2
to 2 ½ hours) or the evening before for set-up (volunteers will be
needed from 7-9pm on Wednesday, October 12th).  Spanish speakers are especially needed! 
For questions contact Megan Wooley at or Amy Crump at 919-491-7361.

Donate to Project Connect!
Project Connect is possible because of the generosity of the entire community.  Monetary donations
are graciously accepted and will go towards event costs such as
equipment rentals and supplies. All donations are tax deductible. In
2011, donations will also help launch a very unique and meaningful new
program to help homeless individuals in our community connect with
employers. Funds will go towards JOB PARTNERS through the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, to help with assessment tests, background checks, and career portfolios. 

Other Ways to Support Project Connect:

  • Forward this email to friends, family and coworkers. Encourage them to get involved and volunteer with you! 
  • Post a link to our website ( on your Facebook page, Twitter, or blog. Share the message that together we can end homelessness in our community!
  • Include information about Project Connect on your neighborhood, church, or office listserv.
  • Download a Project Connect flyer for both guests and volunteers. Post it on a community bulletin board, at your work, church, or school. CLICK HERE for flyers.
  • Invite a Project Coordinator to come and talk to your church, office, or business about how to get involved. Contact event coordinator Jamie Rohe, Orange County Homeless Program Coordinator, at 919-245-2496 or   


Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 9:00am to 3:30pm


Hargraves Community Center, Chapel Hill

Bricks and clicks: hybrid local businesses

Recently, I’ve gotten to know a lot of local business owners. Many of them are running retail shops selling products and services, but there are also a lot of people working in offices both downtown and in their homes. A large number of them use the Internet to make a living. The primary difference between these two groups is market size and how it makes or breaks businesses these days.

Many retail businesses have a finite market size, while an Internet business can have a global market size. Traditionally, a small retail business that sells physical products out of its building on Main Street can only sell to whomever walked in the door, meaning its total potential number of customers, or market size, is the number of people who live in the area plus a small number of tourists. However, not everyone in that group is interested in purchasing from a local business. The number of actual customers can be quite small, especially in bleak economic times like these.

Chapel Hill 2020: Our Town, Our Vision

The Chapel Hill community and the Town Council have asked for a new Comprehensive Plan to reexamine the vision for Chapel Hill and to plan together for our community's future. the new planning and visioning document will create a framework for the community to guide the Town Council in managing Chapel Hill's future over the next 20 years.

Chapel Hill 2020 is a plan that involves Chapel Hill, every community, every race, every age, every culture, every corner.
What is in Chapel Hill 2020 will directly affect you -- your values, your ambitions, your family, your future. You have made Chapel Hill your town, and we want to hear from you.


First Meeting

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
East Chapel Hill High School
500 Weaver Diary Road, Chapel Hill NC 27514

5:00 – 6:00 pm Project Open House
6:00 – 8:00 pm Stakeholder Meeting



Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm


East Chapel Hill High School

Overcrowded Schools, New Home Construction, and Existing Inventory

It's being reported that school overcrowding "threatens" a moratorium on construction of new homes in Chapel Hill and/or Orange County. Meanwhile, the number of "for sale" signs for existing homes in our neighborhoods are proliferating, as old listings languish and new listings appear.

I was unable to find (after an admittedly quick search) current stats for the number of houses on sale in the various school districts or for the average time a house sits on the market -- probably not numbers that local realtors consider very happy. (Did find reference to an approx. 9% vacancy rate for Chapel Hill, but not certain what that includes -- commercial? residential? both?)

However, it doesn't take a lot of scrutiny to know that there are an unprecedented number of existing houses for sale -- far more than are likely to be built new in the next year, I'd bet. And in the likely event that every one of those houses -- or even half of them -- were sold to families with children by September, the schools would have a difficult time accommodating them.



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