Business Development Strategy

Co-Chair - Gabriel Soltren - gabriel.soltren@gmail.com

Co-Chair - Carol Straight - cstraight@chathamhospital.org

Strategy Statement

Siler City has a long history as a traditional manufacturing town.  The introduction of rail lines in the 1880s turned Siler City into a regional commercial crossroads between the Piedmont and Triangle Regions.  The town’s major industries have included textiles, furniture, hosiery, and food processing.

Since the 1950s, growth along major transportation corridors, particularly US Highway 64, drew retail and service businesses away from the downtown commercial center – a trend common to many communities that built shopping centers on the edge of town.  New industries located on the fringe, where they could access open land and transportation infrastructure more easily.  The central business district shrank as older industries vacated their sites near the city center and downtown retail businesses withdrew to the town limits.  Today, Siler City’s historic district is peppered with a mixture of vacant industrial buildings and struggling retail businesses, and the formerly bustling Highway 64 strip is also marked by disinvestment and decline.   

The business development strategy is designed to revitalize Siler City by bringing more visitors and shoppers to town and by supporting the growth of new businesses to support the expanding market.

Community assets supporting this strategy include:

·         Strategic location in the center of North Carolina, and between the Triad and Triangle

·         Location on a major east-west highway corridor (US 64) that, in 2009, had average daily traffic counts of 18,000 vehicles

·         An abundance of available commercial properties with infrastructure in place

·         A historic downtown center with nearby residential properties

·         The beginning of a commercial core anchored by the NC Arts Incubator

·         Talented entrepreneurs, many of whom are active in the informal economy

 

Community challenges include:

·         Loss of manufacturing jobs paying adequate wages, resulting in weak local demand for many goods and services

·         Growing disparity between the state and county average weekly wage

·         Out-commuting for employment, leading to patterns of purchasing outside of town

·         Lack of funding for marketing and for business start-ups

·         Retention of high school graduates

·         Significant growth of the Hispanic population

 

By promoting a two-pronged approach aimed at increasing visitors and shoppers (thus increasing demand for goods and services) and at diversifying the goods and services offered in Siler City (thus increasing supply), this strategy will help revitalize downtown and the Highway 64 corridor, will support new business formation, will help create new employment opportunities, will help create wealth for new business owners, and will permit the town to once again thrive as a commercial crossroads.