Spread the love

By Charlotte Smith

On Friday, March 1, community members, local leaders, and business owners gathered to celebrate the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bladenboro’s new town square. With over 100 people in attendance, Terry Nance from Boost the Boro, Inc., welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Charles Ray Peterson, a Bladen County Commissioner, and Bladenboro resident, took the podium and stated, “This project signifies the progress being made in Bladen County. We have set goals for our county, and Bladenboro will be a driving force for economic growth for our local economy.”

A brief historical context – The town has faced substantial hurricane damage over the years, leaving most downtown businesses inoperative when Hurricane Florence arrived. Assembling enough downtown property for such a significant development seemed nearly impossible after the destruction caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Yet, through the support and faithful work of leaders in Bladen County, the project reached completion.

“This all began with Boost the Boro,” stated Chuck Heustess of the Bladen County Economic Development Commission. “I remember reading the first article on Bladen Online about a grassroots effort aimed at revitalizing Bladenboro. We initially thought it would last a couple of years. However, six, seven, eight years later, that group was still actively working, installing benches, and making facade improvements. That effort inspired us to undertake a project beyond their capacity. In my mind, and within our office, this entire project started with the resilience and persistence of the Boost the Boro organization.”

This project is a culmination of years of diligent work and was realized through collaborations among Boost the Boro, Inc., the Town of Bladenboro, Bladen County Economic Development, Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial Inc., Bladenboro Workgroup, and local and North Carolina state elected officials. Two families, the Bridger family, and the Tom Lancaster ,  also played a vital role in the process by donating private property to be used for the town square.

The Town Square now hosts locally owned businesses such as Aunt B’s Country Kitchen, Lash & Mane Salon, Things I Love Gifts and More, Market on Main, Over Yonder Coffee, Teas, and Creamery, Sweet Tea Boutique, the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, and others, with plans to include a medical facility.

Shanelle Harris, the newly appointed Town Administrator of Bladenboro, remarked, “I’ve learned that Bladenboro may be small, but it is mighty. This town square project exemplifies a community’s determination to thrive.”

To mark the celebration, Bladenboro Middle School’s newly elected Student Government Association officers, alongside their advisor, Mrs. Soles, made their first official appearance at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Furthermore, long-time Bladenboro advocates and former small business proprietors, Dr. and Mrs. Helms, generously contributed an eloquent clock and sponsored the landscaping project, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the new town square.

DeVane Builders, a local construction firm in Bladen County, was the project’s general contractor. The project was funded by over $1 million in federal and state grants and local funds.

North Carolina State Representative William Brisson said, “Everything looks so good for the town, and I know that the people will enjoy it and support it.”

The unveiling of the new town square marks the beginning of Bladenboro’s rejuvenation. The second phase, which includes demolishing older buildings on Seaboard Street, is already in progress. Commissioner Peterson emphasized, “The successful completion of Phase One and the ongoing renovations are testaments to our collective progress.”


For information about business opportunities, contact Chuck Heustess at 910-645-2292 or by e-mail at edc@bladenco.org

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