There's good economic news for our community at the close of October--but first, don't forget to vote!
Election Day, November 2: A long mid-term campaign season wraps up this Tuesday, November 2. Early voting turnout was strong locally, but if you missed it, you can still vote at your regular polling place this Tuesday, any time between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Don't miss your chance to select your representatives in Congress, the N.C. state legislature, the County Commission, the School Board, and statewide judicial posts. Please vote!
Pepsi expansion and jobs: PepsiCo has selected Winston-Salem as one of its three sites nationally for consolidation and expansion of their calling centers, with the official announcement set for November 1. In the short run, this protects more than 800 existing jobs at its Winston-Salem center, and brings about 200 more jobs here as well. In the long run, some further expansion is expected. Especially in the current economic client, this is good news to celebrate.
Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas: In October, the city council approved guidelines for phase two of the "Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas" (RUCA) program. This phase will take $2.5 million of the Dell repayment funds to help leverage improvements of urban commercial areas that had gone into decline. Some of the funds will improve public infrastructure (such as sidewalks and street trees), and some will be used as a loan fund for physical facade improvements of businesses in the targeted areas. The idea between the RUCA program is to target for improvement areas that have gone into decline over time. This will boost our community's overall economy, and improve neighborhoods that otherwise are in jeopardy of (or already facing) economic and social decay. Reversal of those negative trends provides an important boost to public safety. Over the next several months, the city will be reviewing candidate RUCAs and finalizing the phase two target areas. One possible RUCA of interest to Southwest Ward residents is the Academy Street / Peters Creek Parkway area between Ardmore and West Salem.
Ardmore post office: Residents of Ardmore were unpleasantly surprised in October by the news that the Ardmore post office branch was being closed at the end of December. The news was especially disturbing given the commitment from district Postal Service leadership just a couple of years ago to find a suitable nearby location for the Ardmore branch, once the current property was taken by landlord WFU/BMC for its expansion plans.
At the moment, Rep. Dale Folwell and I are working with the Ardmore Neighborhood Association leadership in an effort to have the closure decision reversed. Since this is not a decision within our direct control, I cannot promise favorable results--but we are making the attempt. We should know by the end of November whether we've had any success.
Little Creek Greenway: I am excited to report that after sometimes frustrating years of effort, the city has finally acquired all the right-of-way needed to build phase 1 of the Little Creek Greenway. Phase 1 will connect Little Creek Park and the Salem Woods neighborhood, the Atwood neighborhoods, and the Shoppes at Little Creek shopping center on Hanes Mall Boulevard. All told, this initial phase of the greenway will be a little less than a mile of paved walking and biking trail which will provide both safe exercise opportunities and great pedestrian connectivity for neighborhood residents to other nearby resources. We look to be on track for construction next year. Later phases of this greenway will extend to other areas down Little Creek to the southwest.
Housing for homeless veterans: I'm pleased to report that the city has received a $926,000 grant from the U.S. Veterans' Administration to develop housing for homeless veterans. BB&T is to be commended for its very significant commitment of an additional $500,000 to aid in this effort. Combined, this funding should permit Winston-Salem to leverage the creation of permanent supported housing for more than 30 homeless veterans. That's real help for people who have served our country, and now need our assistance in return.
Sustainability Resource Center: The city has also received a $10,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, to underwrite the start-up costs for the Winston-Salem Sustainability Resource Center. The center is to be open on weekdays, and provide information (for both the general public and businesses) about environmentally sustainable technologies and practices (e.g., energy efficiency). The center will be staffed by city interns working with our sustainability program. (The sustainability program was started as a part of Winston-Salem's commitment to reducing our emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.)
Piedmont Federal rezoning: On October 4, the city council approved rezoning property on S. Stratford Road beside the Towers shopping center across from Thruway. The rezoned property is owned by Piedmont Federal Savings, which plans to put its new headquarters and office building there. It's a good project which takes advantage of strategically located infill development space.