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Downtown Salisbury Inc director resigns

SALISBURY — The head of the city’s downtown promotions and development organization abruptly resigned her job last month.

Larissa Harper, named director of Downtown Salisbury Inc. in late 2017, resigned from her position as Downtown Development Director on Tuesday, June 23.

The city did not provide a reason for her resignation. Her personnel file lists a single, negative item, a suspension for three days in 2019. The staff page for Downtown Salisbury Inc. no longer lists Harper, who confirmed that she had left the position but did not comment further about the matter by press time on Monday.

In her role, Harper was simultaneously a city employee and leader of the nonprofit Downtown Salisbury Inc, which is funded through a property tax on the downtown area. The organization has played a key role in trying to redevelop the Empire Hotel on South Main Street. In 2018, the city, with help from Downtown Salisbury Inc., hosted the N.C. Main Street Conference.

The Downtown Salisbury Inc. director position became a city employee in July 2017 as part of a public-private partnership and in a model followed by other, similar organizations.

Asked about Harper’s departure, DSI Board President Gianni Moscardini said, “I guess she wanted to pursue other stuff.” Moscardini, who has been involved with Downtown Salisbury Inc. for about three years, said he was not certain of the specifics of her departure due, in part, to the fact that it is no longer its own, separate entity. 

“One thing I know for sure is that I feel like we have organized the organization pretty well and that right now we are at a good point,” Moscardini said. 

COVID-19 has made part of DSI’s job — promoting and organizing downtown events — more difficult than ever, Moscardini said. But he expressed optimism about the opportunity for new residential space and investment in the downtown area. 

“There is still a good opportunity to attract some investors to the old historic buildings downtown,” he said.

He said the DSI board and the city would both play a part in naming a permanent replacement.

Until a permanent replacement is named, the city said questions and concerns about downtown development should be director to Latoya Price, DSI marketing and events coordinator, who can be reached at latoya.price@salisburync.gov or via phone at 704-638-5238.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to state that Harper was suspended for three days in 2019. A previous version of this story was incorrect. We apologize for the error. 

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