SMITHFIELD, N.C. — In Johnston County, Smithfield has a unique approach to revitalization.
The town requires downtown property owners to help fund an organization dedicated to economic development. With the help of an extra tax, the corporation promotes downtown as a great place to do business.
"Of course, nobody likes to pay taxes, but they feel like they're getting some kind of added value," director Chris Johnson said. "I'm kind of like a main street manager that assists the property owners in trying to find appropriate tenants that fit well with what we already have downtown."
As a result, the downtown area has seen a 93-percent occupancy rate. Twenty years ago, half of the storefronts were empty.