Thomasville leaders visit Danville,Va. to get tips on how to revitalize their community

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- The City of Thomasville wants to revitalize itself, so nearly two dozen city leaders took a trip to Danville, Va. Thursday to get some tips.

In December of 2000, Danville had the very low unemployment rate of 2.4% and soon after textile and tobacco businesses left Transylvania County  the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 13% by January 2009.

Former Danville Mayor Linwood Wright credits a combined private-public effort and money from the Virginia Tobacco Commission for renovating old warehouses and making the turnaround possible.

Danville is now seeking and getting technology start ups to move in.

"The geeks go into these old buildings and with a little lipstick on the pig they are very pleased with what they see," said Wright.

Danville's plight reminds Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett of the trying times in his own town.

"Never in my born days did I dream or believe that furniture would ever leave the city. I just thought that was just part of our town," said Bennett.

Bennett said the warehouses in Thomasville are different than those in Danville and Golden Leaf tobacco money may not be available.

Bennett also said the level of communication between public and private entities and the level of enthusiasm were his biggest take-aways from the day in Danville.

"I'm going to take that back home with me. I'm kind of fired up today. I'm ready to go!" Bennett said.