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Editorial: Building up downtown

Leaders of Downtown Salisbury Inc. deserve kudos for doing their homework before updating the master plan for the city’s central business district. Road trips to Greenville, S.C., and Asheville have helped them see new possibilities for Salisbury.
Rowan County is lucky to have such a conscientious group spearheading downtown development. That’s right ó Rowan County, not just the city of Salisbury. Downtown districts are a good barometer of a community’s vitality and adaptability. Looking at Rowan’s county seat, you see a small city that has bucked the usual trend. Instead of fading away in the shadow of Wal-mart and other big-box stores near the interstate, Salisbury’s downtown shines like a jewel. It projects a good image for the entire city and county.
That has not happened by accident. Through the Main Street Project and now Downtown Salisbury Inc., the central business district has for years had an organization to advocate for and market the area. The vitality and future of the downtown are on the front burner all the time at Downtown Salisbury Inc. Everyone should have such support.
The staff and volunteers of Downtown Salisbury are not complacent, as the road trips to Asheville and Greenville show. They could have aimed lower by visiting cities closer to Salisbury’s population of 28,000. Instead, they chose larger cities ó but not metropolises ó that have become popular destinations by being creative. Asheville is a city of 74,000 and Greenville, S.C., has 56,000 residents. Downtown Salisbury may not have the space for a Pack Square Park or a Reedy Creek on which to develop a Riverwalk. But it has creative thinkers, and they may be able to identify some resource or aspect that could become the city’s centerpiece.
To borrow a phrase, downtown could go from good to great. Some of the city’s most creative thinkers are working on it.

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