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City Leaders Travel to North Carolina


In early August, 40 community leaders from Springfield visited Ashville North Carolina to look for new ideas in downtown development, public education, and economic growth. In Ashville, Adam McMullin files this report:

AFTER BOARDING A CHARTERED BUS IN DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE, THE SPRINGFIELD DELEGATION OF CIVIC LEADERS WERE OFF TO THEIR NEXT STOP--A FORUM ON TOURISM AT THE NORTH CAROLINA ARBORETUM. IT WAS ONE OF MANY STOPS THE GROUP TOOK DURING THEIR VISIT TO ASHEVILLE. THE SPRINGFIELD AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHOSE ASHEVILLE FOR CITY LEADERS TO VISIT THIS YEAR BECAUSE OF ITS SIMILARITIES WITH SPRINGFIELD. ASHEVILLE IS A MODEST SIZED TOWN NESTLED IN THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. MUCH LIKE SPRINGFIELD, IT HAS SEEN MEASURABLE GROWTH OVER THE LAST DECADE AND HAS EXPERIENCED THE GROWING PAINS THAT COME ALONG WITH IT.

THE SPRINGFIELD DELEGATION MADE A NUMBER STOPS DURING THEIR TIME IN ASHEVILLE. ONE PARTICULAR AREA OF FOCUS WAS THE DOWNTOWN AREA. DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE IS A VIBRANT, BUSTLING AREA. HOWEVER, MUCH LIKE SPRINGFIELD, 15 YEARS AGO IT WAS DEAD.

SUSAN BALLARD IS ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT OF CONVENTION SALES AND MARKETING FOR THE ASHEVILLE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

BALLARD SAYS THE INDIVIDUAL SHOPS AND THE MANY RESTAURANTS THAT CONTINUE TO MOVE INTO THE AREA IS WHAT KEEPS DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE GOING. AND SPRINGFIELD CITY LEADERS SAY DOWNTOWN SPRINGFIELD IS ON THE SAME PATH. CHATTING WITH SPRINGFIELD MAYOR PRO TEM RALPH MANLEY, SPRINGFIELD CITY COUNCIL MEMBER JOHN WYLIE SAYS STEADY GROWTH AND REDEVELOPMENT IN DOWNTOWN PROVES THE CITY IS WELL ON ITS WAY TO DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION.

SPRINGFIELD MAYOR TOM CARLSON SAYS BESIDES LOOKING AT DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT, CITY LEADERS ALSO DISCUSSED WAYS IN WHICH TO MARKET SPRINGFIELD TO TOURISTS MORE EFFECTIVELY. THEY ALSO CONCENTRATED ON EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES.

MEMBERS OF THE SPRINGFIELD DELEGATION SAID ASHEVILLE PROVED TO BE A GOOD PLACE TO VISIT AND LEARN FROM BECAUSE OF ITS SIMILARITIES TO SPRINGFIELD. THE TWO CITIES ARE SIMILAR IN POPULATION IN THEIR METROPOLITAN AREAS, DOWNTOWN STRUCTURE, AND THE MIX OF MANUFACTURING AND HEALTH CARE JOBS. FOR KSMU NEWS I'M ADAM MCMULLIN IN ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA.