MEBANE, N.C. (WGHP) — At a time when small towns are shrinking, one here in the Piedmont Triad is expanding.
“Our downtown is like the heart of the city and we want it to thrive as we want other parts of the city to thrive also,” said Ed Hooks, Mebane’s mayor.
During a year of uncertainty, three new shops and a restaurant opened doors, adding variety to where vacant signs used to hang.
“We used to be all antique shops, now, there’s more restaurants coming in,” said Louis Martinho, the owner of Martinho’s.
City leaders are capitalizing on explosive industrial growth in the area. In the last four years, large companies like Chick-fil-A and Honda added more than 1,200 new jobs to Mebane. City leaders tell FOX8 this has also become an area more people want to live in.
“A lot of people are moving from Raleigh and Greensboro, and other states, a lot of new development like housing developments and apartments,” said Ashley Thomas, Fusion Nutrition owner.
The 2020 Census shows a population growth rate of 56%, and that means more foot traffic.
“It probably doubled within the last five years, it’s busier than ever now after COVID,” Martinho said.
The city is committing to new initiatives. Mebane is a part of the North Carolina Main Street program, focused on ways to keep people coming back to the downtown area.
“I think as that program continues, we’ll see a lot of great things happening both on the economic development part of it and the facades of buildings, new parking areas, those kinds of things I think will be a great asset,” Hooks said.
Mebane has a year left in the program. When it ends city leaders plan to create a permanent committee or group focused on helping the downtown area grow.