Last week, former Sanford Mayor Chet Mann joined a prestigious list of North Carolina Main Street Champions when he was recognized by the NC Department of Commerce for his contributions to the economic development of downtown Sanford.
Mann was nominated for the award by Downtown Sanford, Inc. for his dedication and determination in leading Sanford to become one of the foremost places for economic growth and vitality in central North Carolina.
Under his leadership, the City of Sanford focused on smart, sustainable growth and nurtured the public-private partnerships necessary to compete on a national and international scale. Sanford has become a prime location for industry, innovation, tourism, the arts, and more.
As a result, Downtown Sanford is increasingly recognized as a critical piece of the economic development puzzle. Under Mann's leadership, Sanford’s citizens overwhelmingly passed a bond referendum that revitalized downtown. That revitalization helped fill storefronts with contributing shops that attract local citizens and visitors alike. Property owners can now realize the value of residential units, giving downtown the desired twenty-four seven formula needed to survive.
As he recognized this year's award winners, Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary of Rural Economic Development at the NC Department of Commerce, said, “Champions are the heartbeat of rural North Carolina. They don’t give up on their communities and keep fighting for new businesses, new jobs, and new investment.”
“Main Street Champions are passionate about their community and their downtown districts. They are public officials, volunteers, community leaders and concerned citizens that are all working collaboratively for common goals within the context of their community’s economic development strategies," added Liz Parham, Director of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center at the Commerce Department.
According to downtown leaders, former Mayor Mann is just that kind of champion for Sanford. "We will always be grateful for former Mayor Mann's innovation and progressive leadership and are honored to add him to our distinguished list of Champions" says Kelli Laudate, Executive Director of Downtown Sanford Inc.
Since the recognition began in 2000, 375 Main Street Champions have been recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce, including 38 honorees in the 2023 class of champions.
Watch former Sanford Mayor Chet Mann's recognition video here.