ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — When you think of Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is the first place most people name.

City leaders are working to make the area a destination for more than animal lovers.

People who’ve lived there for decades are excited about seeing new places popping up every day.

“If you’ve not come to Asheboro in 10 or 15 years, it’s definitely changed quite a bit,” said Addie Corder, the executive director of Downtown Asheboro Inc.

Corder has grown up watching the change. As a Randolph County native, she’s spent lots of time walking through downtown Asheboro. Now, it’s her job to make you want to go there.

“We’ve been working in my role as director of downtown to recruit new businesses that feel authentic to our community and to create spaces and opportunities for activities that people can enjoy,” she said.

Sunset Avenue has several new businesses like Sparrow’s Pearl Boutique and OG’s Sports Grill. There’s also an oyster bar preparing to open.

“People, when they’re looking for downtowns, they’re looking for things that have a wide variety of options, so the activities bring people here,” Corder said.

Those activities are on the way. Part of a building off South Fayetteville Street is going to be Hoover’s Hatchet House.

“It’s going to be a local business that has axe throwing lanes and virtual golf simulation and then some escape rooms,” Corder said. “It’s going to be really great for all kinds of people.”

Downtown isn’t the only area growing. Drive about two miles down the road, and you’ll find the Pizza Inn. It’s a modern take on an old concept. It opened two days ago, and business is booming.

“Everyone has just really opened up their arms and really just welcomed us back as we’ve welcomed them,” said Steven Allred, the restaurant’s director of operations.

On the economic development side of things, the area is doing very well. This week, Energizer Battery announced an expansion of its Asheboro plant, bringing 178 new jobs and a $43 million investment over four years.

Corder hopes the people moving to the area to work will make a stop downtown and tell their friends to come, too.

“It’s a great day trip,” she said. “You can come. You can check out the zoo, check out all the great things we’ve got going on downtown, and you will definitely be pleasantly surprised.”

Something else to attract people is the free summer concert series in downtown Asheboro, which is set to kick off Friday.