HENDERSON, N.C. — Leaders hope a cleaner image will help attract new jobs and new federal dollars to Henderson, a city hit hard by textile layoffs.
Rep. Bob Etheridge toured Henderson's abandoned and dilapidated buildings Tuesday. He also learned about what the town is doing to clean itself up.
Children are spending their Saturdays picking up litter in neighborhoods, and the town started a campaign to haul away hundreds of junk cars for free.
The cleanup idea is really catching on.
"Henderson is full of quality people. I think it was just a spark that went into a flame and now it's kind of like a raging inferno and everybody wants to be a part of it," council member Elissa Yount said.
While in town, Henderson leaders asked Etheridge for federal funds to keep things rolling in the right direction.
"They're not really asking for a handout, they are really saying give us a helping hand -- we're going to help ourselves. That's the way to approach it," the 2nd District representative said.
"It underscores their commitment they have shown us. I think they see that Henderson is committed to this project. They're committed to all the projects we've shown," Mayor Clem Seifert said.
The town is not just fixing what is already there. It is looking to the future, including a downtown revitalization project called Embassy Square.
Tuesday, Embassy Square was awarded a $3,500 grant from the the Durham-based Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.
Henderson is located in Vance County --which has the highest unemployment rate in the state.