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10 to Watch: Larissa Harper looks to build on downtown’s vibrancy

SALISBURY — Larissa Harper has been in her new job as development director for Downtown Salisbury Inc. less than three months, so she has had a lot of people to see and places to visit.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting all the different folks who help turn the wheels here in Salisbury,” Harper says. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”

Harper came to Salisbury from Wilson, where she was a downtown business specialist with the city’s planning and community revitalization department. She brings multiple skills in addressing vacant and underutilized buildings, grant writing, contract negotiations and strategic planning.

“I have been surprised with the numerous residential apartments and the vibrancy Salisbury already has in place, and I’m glad for that,” Harper says, adding she hopes she can add something to the mix to take the downtown to the next level.

Downtown Salisbury Inc.’s board and committees will be gearing up for action as the new year begins. The organization will be updating its strategic plan and probably setting goals for one, three and five years out.

Harper is looking to forge more partnerships for downtown revitalization and work with Empire Hotel developers in moving that project forward, keeping the public updated as things progress.

Larissa Harper

Age: 44

Hometown: Davidson County

Job title: Downtown development director, Downtown Salisbury Inc.

Birthplace: Davidson County.

What’s your favorite book? “Although this may come back to haunt me — ‘Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!’ by Dr. Seuss. ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ is almost tied with ‘Marvin K. Mooney.'”

Who would or should play you in a movie? Reese Witherspoon. “I believe she understands the complexity of being a Southern woman, and she seems to have my kind of humor. Based on the roles she has played, and from what I know about her actual life, it seems she is not afraid to make fun of herself in order to make others laugh; however, she shines when she shows her serious side, compassion for others and unassuming wit. Plus, she is a savvy entrepreneur.”

What would you want for your last meal? “I love to eat savory, gravy-covered, home cookin’ … but, out of consideration for those left to care for me after my soul has left this vessel, I would want to choose that meal very carefully.”

What’s your biggest personal challenge in the year ahead? Being as approachable as possible regarding work affairs, yet maintaining a healthy personal life.

What’s your biggest hope or aspiration in 2018? “For year 2018, I hope I can play a part in helping to unite (or at least find common ground among) folks who may have differences, yet all strive for a common goal, whether this is on a small or large scale, family- or community-related.”

Who will you be watching in 2018? All our new City Council members.

What’s your reaction to being named as one of the “10 to Watch”? “I am honored and a little anxious about being watched.”

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