Group to promote business in Kannapolis
By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS ó Merchants in the former Cannon Village have joined forces to promote and support downtown Kannapolis.
The new Kannapolis Business Alliance will have its inaugural meeting, dubbed Launch and Learn, from 5:15 to 7 tonight in the old Cabarrus Bank Building.
“We need new energy,” said Dacia Cress, who owns Yoga-Moxie Studio and co-founded the alliance. “We need to pull the businesses together to help each other.”
First the textile mill closed, then the recession hit. All along, big box stores have lured customers away from the quaint brick shopping district now simply called the Village.
With the development of the N.C. Research Campus just up the street, some retailers in the Village said they feel abandoned by their landlord, Atlantic American Properties.
David Murdock, who owns Atlantic American Properties and nearly all of downtown Kannapolis, focuses now on health, nutrition and agriculture at the $1.5 billion Research Campus he founded in 2005.
Soon, four furniture stores in the Village will close, leaving nearly a quarter-million square feet of retail space vacant. The heart of the district, West Avenue, is plagued by empty storefronts.
But Cress remains optimistic.
“A lot of us see things not as a demise at all but simply as a transformation, a regrouping, so that’s where the (Kannapolis Business Alliance) can help,” she said in an e-mail. “An upturn is just around the corner, and we see great potential.”
Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Atlantic American Properties and campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina, said the landlord has a good relationship with downtown merchants.
“Every retailer across the country is struggling right now,” Safrit said. “We certainly want to be supportive.”
Atlantic American Properties already has helped the fledgling business group, Cress said.
The company is allowing the alliance to use the bank building for free tonight and Dec. 17, as well as distributing the group’s fliers.
“I have had nothing but a positive response from them,” Cress said.
Cress started the alliance with Steven Blinsink, who owns Armor Insurance. He shares an office in the Village with his wife, Tamberlyn Blinsink, a naturopathic physician.
David Depompa, who owns Depompa’s Comfortable Foods in the Village, joined as the third board member.
Cress wants two additional board members. Once the group reaches a critical mass, members will decide whether to elect officers and pay dues, she said.
Organizers hoped for 30 participants tonight and already have 35 planning to attend.
“The response has been wonderful,” Cress said.
The group has no budget, and Cress, Blinsink and Depompa are putting the event together out of their own pockets, including refreshments.
Goals include planning a spring event to bring foot traffic to the Village. Cress talks about an art walk or amateur photography show, something that would get the community involved.
She also wants to create a cohesive downtown calendar on the group’s Web site, kannapolisalliance.org.
The alliance wants to “provide positive and constructive communications” between businesses, the city of Kannapolis, Atlantic American Properties and Castle & Cooke, Cress said.
“It’s been somewhat disjointed,” she said.
The alliance will serve as a networking and referral group.
Representatives from any business in downtown Kannapolis or the surrounding area are invited tonight.
To attend, call Cress at 704-232-5014 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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