Marketing the market

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 1, 2014

Laurels to the enthusiasm generated at last week’s planning workshop for a new farmers market that could become the anchor for a cultural plaza in downtown Salisbury. The farmers market has proved to be a highly popular attraction with local residents, even in two temporary locations with limited space and little shelter from the elements. The market’s popularity is bound to grow when there’s a permanent venue suitable for expanded yearround use, with restrooms, the possibility of sheltered shopping and other amenities. The market is a community mainstay, a place to mingle with neighbors as well as buy locally produced wares. As a catalyst for further development of the Railwalk/Lee Street area develops, it makes sense to integrate market plans with a future cultural plaza complex offering expanded entertainment options.
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Dart to the financial insecurity hovering over many households in North Carolina and across the nation. In a recent report, the Corporation for Enterprise Development found that despite an improving national economy, about 44 percent of U.S. households — or almost half — lack the savings that could help them weather a job loss, sudden health crisis or other emergency leading to a steep drop in income. For North Carolina, almost 52 percent of households lack such emergency liquidity. It isn’t only lower-income households who are on perilous financial grounds. The D.C.-based CED, which supports programs to relieve poverty, says more than a third of middle-income families earning up to $79,000 a year have less than three months of savings. While household circumstances will differ, the group estimates a family of four needs at least $5,900 in savings to weather a temporary crisis. Without such a nest egg, they’re at risk of even losing the nest.
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Laurels to North Carolina for its high ranking in a recent study of openness regarding economic development subsidy programs. The study by Good Jobs First, a nonprofit research group, rated states on how easily constituents could get information about economic development deals, especially via online access. In North Carolina, the subsidy programs it assessed included the Film Production Tax Credit, One North Carolina Fund and William S. Lee Tax Credits. As Good Jobs First research director Philip Matta notes, transparency alone doesn’t guarantee the effectiveness of a subsidy, “but it is the foundation for any meaningful assessment.”