We’ve learned so much this year

What a difference a year can make! In a year, this writer has learned so much and never acknowledged there was another world outside of the sports arena. Your WHDA gave me an opportunity to try and give back to the community that was so good to him as a youngster. For that, I am so appreciative.

What have I learned?

The first topic that we endeavored to learn about was economic development. The WHDA is an organization that encourages economic development in our central business district. That is an overall theme that has rung clearly at all meetings, and we hope has vibrated throughout the community. Our downtown may not be the same as we remember, but what really is? We have beautiful, historic buildings that are waiting to be occupied, and through the efforts of the WHDA economic team, at least four will have tenants soon. This group works hard daily trying to bring businesses to our Main Street area. They do not encourage investors to buy and then not occupy, but rather buy and develop. Just to have a building sold is not their goal; instead, sell to people who can help Washington’s vibrancy. This is a goal we hope to continue on a regular basis.

Another lesson we have learned is the importance of visibility. The WHDA has hopefully been more visible to merchants, civic groups and you, the people, than in past years. For us to attain any degree of prominence as a helpful economic engine for downtown Washington, we must be seen. We hope that the WHDA is a transparent organization that merchants and citizens will be proud of as we move forward into next year. We represent you, and our visibility in and around town is imperative!

You have reinforced what we already knew: that our citizenry and merchants remain the best! Being a nonprofit organization that depends largely on private funding, our friends have been more than responsive. For that we are so appreciative, and it only spurs us to work harder for you. Let me thank you for the support, and we look forward to your renewed assistance in the future.

All of us only have one downtown! This is nothing new, but I did not realize the impact it has on Washington and Beaufort County and our economy. Main Street in Washington is kind of like the “front porch of your home.” The better it looks, the more appealing it is to others. It is our gateway to Beaufort County, as well as Washington. If we want visitors to return and visit our county and the many fine communities in Beaufort County, then our Main Street must be vibrant and functional. Their opinion of Beaufort County is weighed heavily by their first impressions of our central business district.

This will take a joint effort from all of us, but we have faith that this will be a reality.

In conclusion with this article, we have learned so much that it will be continued in next week’s article if you will have patience with me. Visibility, economic development, the gateway and our people are only a few lessons we learned. Until then, please let me encourage you to give our local merchants the first chance. They go to work every day just like everyone else, and all they want is a chance. Let us give them this opportunity, and please continue to shop, dine and play in beautiful Washington, N.C., and if you have time … take a walk with the H-Rob.

© 2017, Washington Daily News