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.

Downtown parties

The festivities downtown will go on this year, but sans alcohol (and beer distributor sponsorship). They are looking for folks to give $500 or more to sponsor the events, perhaps OrangePolitics readers could help out.

Here's an idea: Donate money through the PayPal button below or pledge a donation in the comments. If we get enough, we can list "The Readers of OrangePolitics.org" as a sponsor of the downtown parties!

UPDATE: We now have a fail-safe way to support this project. Folks can make donations of support, but everyone gets their money back if we do not reach our target - $500. Click here to support the summer series!

For the summer event series, the first happening would be on June 15 -- a movie showing of "The Incredibles," at McCorkle Place on the UNC campus.

"The power of having everyone at the table is limitless."

So said Aaron Nelson on announcing the creation of the Chamber of Commerce's latest in a series of high profile “councils” to further its work. What he meant was that the power of saying who comprises “everyone” is worth grabbing. As is the power to identify by omission the multitudes who are not part of everyone even if a place is reserved for a few of them to observe the goings on at “the table.”

What the Chamber fails to understand is that a self-interested organization like itself cannot identify an inclusive group. It is hamstrung by its reflexive assertion of its own narrow interests. Nelson is no more able to overcome this problem than Jim Heavner was with the Public-Private Partnership a decade ago. Nelson has benefited from years of Chamber experience in refining how to make a council look inclusive. Hence, the likes of Bernadette Pelissier, Robert Dowling, and Rick Edens in the current edition.

How to host a really big party

Let's all give a big pat on the back to the Police Chief and Manager of the Town of Chapel Hill for an excellent public celebration on Monday night. I was among the approximately 45,000 people who came to Franklin Street to celebrate the men's basketball championship, and I saw a few of you readers there too.

I saw some things that I wouldn't brag about (like women climbing light poles in flip flops and men shouting "show us your t*ts"), but we certainly behaved ourselves better than the party in East Lansing which ended with tear gas and 43 arrests after Michigan State lost to UNC on Saturday. Wonder what they do if they win?

Really Really Free

Guest Post by Theresa Champion

What: The Really REALLY Free Market, a celebration of alternative economics.
Where: Carrboro Town Commons
When: 1:00-5:00pm, Saturday, April 2nd.

Everyone is invited to arrive between 1:00 and 5:00 pm with goods, services, performances, stories, crafts, food, games, music, clothing, furniture, and resources to give and share (fully free of charge!) with others in the community. There is no buying, selling or exchanging involved - in this market, everything is strictly free. Better than a yard sale, the Really Really Free Market welcomes all items for giving and receiving, and has no price tags!

This event is approved by the Town of Carrboro and is organized by a small coalition of community members. This is a "self-organizing" event, in that it is not corporately sponsored or institutionally organized. The Carrboro Really Really Free Market is organized in the spirit of other free markets cropping up around the South, the U.S. and the world as ways for communities to come together, give, share and receive.

EDC breakfast takes us back to past

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, March 26, 2005

Last week I felt as if I'd climbed into Dr. Emmett Brown's souped-up DeLorean and ridden with Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly character back to 1985. The occasion was the annual State of the Local Economy Breakfast sponsored by the Orange County Economic Development Commission.

With a few exceptions, the report, as presented by EDC Director Dianne Reid, was a mundane and conventional affair. Despite stalwart efforts by past board members like Bob Hall, Mark Marcoplos and Bill Strom, the EDC seems to have missed out on the progressive trends that can be seen elsewhere in Orange County.

The event had its moments, however brief: celebrating the success of the recycling program, applauding open space preservation and lamenting the shrinking availability of modest-cost housing.

But, all in all, the presentation (56 slides in around 45 minutes) had little relevance to the lives of Orange County's working stiffs and much relevance to the business leaders who, along with a bevy of elected officials and government staffers, were on hand for the event.

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