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The City of Sanford’s economic development strategy and the role of public arts in revitalization are the focus of this month’s Business View Magazine feature on Sanford.
The article, which is part of the magazine’s series on best practices in American cities, focuses on how the City has leveraged its water and wastewater assets to establish itself as a regional service provider through agreements with Pittsboro and Chatham County.
“That’s how cities our size are going to have to do things in order to be viable. You’ve got to leverage your assets, share them, and use them to grow,” said Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, who was interviewed by Business View Magazine for the article.
Mayor Mann also shared the City’s approach to revitalization through Opportunity Zones. The goal is to focus investor resources into a blighted area in need of redevelopment. The City has targeted both commercial and residential uses for the zones and looks forward to moving toward a “village concept,” Mann says.
The article also shares how the City’s public-private public art initiative has stimulated economic growth and tourism. “Once everything is completed, we’ll have about $240,000 worth of public art in the City of Sanford, with a population of just 30,000 people,” Liz Whitmore, City Planner, shared with the magazine. Most of those funds ($150,000) were raised through private donations.
“It was important for us to keep our history alive for our young people because people forget,” Whitmore said. But, “we also see it as an economic engine; we’ve had a $9.5 million streetscape improvement project downtown and with the mural project, we’ve had a lot of business owners invest in their properties or spruce up their exterior facades.”
Revitalization through public art “has been a nice component of our economic development story – bringing our downtown alive through public art,” Mann notes. “We’re real proud of it; it’s changed our downtown ‘vibe’ and it makes people want to consider living in Sanford.