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Canton preps for economic success

haywoodPiece by piece, Canton is setting the stage for future economic success through a number of new initiatives.

A couple of new economic development issues will be discussed at a special-called meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the Canton municipal building. Assistant Town Manager Jason Burrell said the meeting would give downtown business owners, property owners and the general public a chance to review and provide input on the creation of a downtown business improvement district.

“The reason we’re looking into doing this is because of our effort to implement some grant programs we put into our economic incentive policy, and one of the requirements is you need to create a business improvement district,” Burrell said. 

Canton Board of Aldermen approved a policy that will allow the town to offer a long list of economic development incentive grant programs for business and property owners wanting to invest in the downtown corridor. 

The grants would provide some funding for capital investments, creating jobs, upgrading building facades, architectural design assistance and more. Burrell said state laws require municipalities to map out and create a special business improvement district if they want to offer special grants. He will have maps at the April 7 meeting to show people where he sees the district lines being drawn.  

Once a consensus is reached regarding the district lines, Burrell said letters will be sent out to all affected property owners and an official public hearing will follow before the improvement district is officially adopted. Establishing the district won’t mean additional taxes for businesses within the district like Waynesville’s downtown district. 

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The Canton board will also be considering the adoption of a reimbursement agreement ordinance that could prove beneficial in the next few months. The ordinance would allow the town to reimburse others for doing work that benefits the town. For example, when the N.C. Department of Transportation repaves Main Street Canton in May it may be easier for the DOT crews to go ahead and pave some sidewalks while they’re at it. Then the town could reimburse DOT for the work. 

While Burrell can’t release much information about a new business looking to locate to Canton, he said the reimbursement ordinance could come into play if the deal goes through. 

“There’s a business looking to locate on Canton property and there may be some roadway improvements and utility line work done as part of that project,” he said. “While they’re onsite doing that work, we would consider reimbursing them for a portion of the work if it’s beneficial to the town.”

The project is still under wraps as the details are worked out but an announcement could be made in the next month if all goes as planned. 

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