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.

Public (Not Private) Internet Access for Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill provides many public services to its citizens. Over the years we've recognized the importance for all people to have equal access to basic necessities like water, sewer, electricity, telephone, transportation, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc. (The ones the town doesn't directly provide the state regulates.) As the town moves into the twenty-first century we find that other types of access are just as important, especially in the new global economies.

One of those new types of access is Internet access. (Wi-Fi is one way to access information on the Internet.) It is steady stream of information that allows people to do all kinds of valuable and important things. In only a few years we have seen this access move from a mere toy to an extremely valuable tool. Very soon Internet access will be more than a tool but a resource that we all can not live without.

Help Celebrate 25 years of Internationalist Books

Help celebrate 25 years of Internationalist Books:

The volunteers at Internationalist Books and Community Center openly invite the general public to participate in shaping the vision for the bookstore as we commemorate our 25th Anniversary in 2006. We are looking back on the legacy of our founder Bob Sheldon as a source of inspiration, and looking forward to the next 25 years as a dedicated center for political change. We need your help.

We're holding an interest meeting on Tuesday January 24th at 7:00pm at the bookstore to enlist those who would like to be involved in the ongoing planning effort for many programs throughout the year. We're looking for former volunteers who have been away from home for a while but would like to return to short-term service. We're looking for friends of Bob Sheldon who would like to help us carry on with his legacy. We're looking for motivated community members who are looking for new ways to champion the rights of workers, and other underrepresented groups.

No Weaver Street for Hillsborough?

The Hillsborough Board of Adjustment rejected a very good site plan for Weaver Street Market in downtown Hillsborough last night, voting 3-2 in favor. A 4-1 vote was required in order to pass the plan. Paul Newton and Al Hartkopf cast the two votes against Weaver Street. It is not at all clear why they voted as they did. It doesn't make sense. I think there will be a lot of people in Hillsborough who will want to know why, and who will want to know how to correct this mistake.

Foy and Chilton Want You to Buy Local

According to news reports, Mayors Foy and Chilton pledged to do their holiday shopping locally:

"We really feel that it is very important for Orange County residents ... to buy local and to help reinvest the money we spend in our holiday shopping season here in Orange County," Chilton said, just a day after being sworn in as Carrboro's new mayor.

The potential impact, according to the Chamber:

a 1 percent increase in Orange County retail sales, assuming the money would not be spent in another county anyway, would generate nearly $360,000 in extra revenue. That's roughly enough to hire nine new police officers or sheriff's deputies.

Last Saturday, Aaron Nelson took advantage of the holiday parade to hand out "Buy Local" decals to a captive, holiday-primed audience.

The benefits of shopping locally are pretty clear, as are the additional benefits of supporting locally-owned businesses.

Kudos to Chilton, Foy, and Nelson for taking advantage of the holiday season to promote this awareness.

Sign the Free Public WiFi Petition

In an effort to bring a free public WiFi network to Chapel Hill and to let our elected representatives know how we feel I've created an online petition.

To: Chapel Hill Town Council

The time has come for the Town of Chapel Hill to build a free, community-owned, public municipal network. The network should have wireless access and provide an open, unfiltered, and unmonitored connection to the Internet available to ALL people. It must be maintained by a local nonprofit for the people of Chapel Hill. Not by a private business or corporation.

We request that the Chapel Hill Town Council act swiftly to bring this service to the people.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

It will be presented to the Town Council as soon as posible. If you are a citizen of Chapel Hill please go to http://www.petitiononline.com/chwifi/petition.html and sign it. Thank you!

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