The importance of our downtown district

Published 1:06 am Monday, February 27, 2017

Our downtown has many names, such as uptown, Main Street, central business district, harbor district and even Main and Market — downtown stretches from the river to Third Street with merchants, restaurants and professionals on streets in between.

The WHDA respects this, and we appreciate them all! However, it is still downtown, and why is it so important to Washington and Beaufort County? In our next series of articles, we will try to tackle this question, and it will hopefully become clear to all of us the importance of our downtown.

Downtowns are the economic engine and the core of a community. It reminds us of who we are and sometimes who we were. It tells us of our past, and the many historical markers should only be a reminder. Downtown is the hub of our past where memories were made and can now be shared with others. Also, it is a place where people can still gather to shop and dine.

Our central business district is the center of our past and should not be forgotten, nor neglected. With respect to our history, our buildings have passed the “test of time” from the elements and hurricanes. New businesses are now on the horizon, and these beautiful old buildings will house both hope and new memories for these entrepreneurs. With pride in our past, these buildings only want a chance to live again and continue the vibrancy they once provided.

Our history is only one reason why downtown is so important. Our harbor district gives visitors a glance of the quality of life Washington can provide. How many times when visiting another town do you not visit its downtown? It is the gateway, not only for Washington, but also for Beaufort County! First impressions are so important, and we want to make it a lasting impression that will bring visitors back.

Your WHDA has done so much to promote this knowing that returning visitors are important to our merchants. We have caring and passionate merchants who want our port city to succeed. Your support of the WHDA and our businesses will show visitors the true quality of life Washington offers.

We have written recently about the need for more competition in our central business district and the value it will have in bringing prospective new businesses to Main Street. The WHDA, through its economic development team, is working hard to do this. Nothing will breed success more than success!

Competition will only be good if we as citizens will support our existing merchants. Local support and competition will truly bring more retailers to our historic port city. Our calling card is a sustainable and vibrant downtown, along the banks of the Pamlico River that others will want to be part of.

Lastly, for this week, our downtown is where arts and culture can thrive. Again, your WHDA asks you to support the many fine artists and galleries along Market and Main. We are fortunate to have some of the best talent anywhere. Some are hidden jewels just waiting to be discovered. Our Turnage and AOP provide so much exposure for citizens to see and enjoy. If you have not visited either the galleries or the Turnage, let me encourage you to do so. Main Street is our core, and culture has long been a part of our lives.

The WHDA is a group of hard-working people who are trying to make a difference for you and our merchants. It is our goal to help our downtown continue to thrive and become more prosperous and competitive. Please join us in this effort by supporting your WHDA and our merchants by giving them the first chance. We will continue next week, but until then, we hope you will always shop, dine and play in beautiful Washington, N.C.! If you have time … take a walk with the H-Rob!

Harold Robinson is the director of development at the Washington Harbor District Alliance.