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Mast General Store coming to Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- City leaders approved a $1.2 million incentive package on Tuesday night, to pave the way for a retail, tourist attraction to open in downtown Winston-Salem.

In a 6-1 vote, city leaders approved an incentive package to encourage the Mast General Store to set up shop in the heart of the city, citing the retailer's past of helping communities throughout the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina revitalize their downtown's.

The incentive package will offer the company grants and low-interest loans.

The company will invest $10 million dollars to renovate the old Coe Building on Trade Street, with the store on the first floor and 45 apartments above it.

The company is expected to hire between 12-15 full-time employees and 22-30 part-time staff bringing $70 - $80,000 in revenue for the city and will donate around $50,000 a year to local nonprofits.

Rodney Davis, who lives downtown, told city leaders, "All the local restaurants and bars are nice and great for creating the lively downtown atmosphere, and we need more.

"We need more retail establishments that will further enhance the residential live aspect of downtown Winston-Salem," said Davis.

Retail stores don't typically receive incentives from the city, but in this case, city leaders say this store that attracts thousands of tourist and bringing downtown's back to life will do more for the community than the average retail store.

Council member, Dan Besse who cast the only vote against the incentives is nervous about future requests for incentives.

"I am concerned that we are over using economic incentives generally," said Besse adding, “It is becoming far too much the norm to expect economic incentive packages."

The Mast General store is slated to open in the spring of 2015.