Local News

Durham Considers Casting Wider Net to Lure Business Downtown

Posted March 8, 2007
Updated March 9, 2007

Durham's downtown could get bigger. The city is looking at using the same incentive program it has had to bring in business investment, but casting the lures over a larger area.

Officials said the programs, which offers to match from 1 percent to 16 percent of a new business’s investment in Durham, have been working. Many storefronts along Main Street are back open for business. High-tech companies now call downtown Durham home.

Ad agency McKinney moved to the Bull City from Raleigh two years ago. One reason for the move: the urban feel.

McKinney CEO Brad Brinegar said there was another reason, however: business incentives.

“I think it played a role in a sense (that) it was a strong commitment from the city to demonstrate they wanted companies like us,” Brinegar said.

The incentives are one of the reasons the city has maintained a 15 percent vacancy rate in the downtown core area, a performance on par with most other cities.

Now, city leaders are considering expanding the policy to include neighborhoods that sit on the edge of the skyline.

Alan Delisle, Durham’s economic development director, said that encouraging businesses to move to the expanded downtown area could be a win-win for everyone.

City Council member Mike Woodard sounded a cautious note.

“I just want to make sure we maximize the citizen's tax dollars,” Woodard said.

Some council members question giving to big companies when little ones are struggling. McKinney's Brinegar said that when it comes to downtowns and businesses, though, there is a beneficial domino effect.

“I think downtown Durham in five years will be absolutely awesome,” Brinegar said.

That is the hope of the people backing the incentive-expansion proposal, which the city council is expected to vote on at its next meeting.


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  • Durham-Raleigh Mar 9, 2007

    JDC... you are right on. Downtown Durham is a perfectly safe and fine place to be. My wife and I walk or bike downtown to go to the Carolina Theater, have dinner, or go to Bulls games, all the time, with no problems. There are areas to the east of downtown that have more issues with crime, but downtown Durham is not just a safe place to be, but with places like Brightleaf, it's a great place to be.

  • JDC Mar 9, 2007

    mugofstout, I'm not sure what groups you're talking about. Why don't you tell us?

    Anyone here actually LIVE in Durham and actually spent time downtown, or are the many narrow-minded comments based solely on hearsay? I've lived and worked in Downtown Durham for over two years and couldn't agree less with the nonsense I've read here.

  • ncfishfinder Mar 9, 2007

    If you look at the Durham Police crime mapper, downtown and within a block or 2 of the Police station are the best places to be beaten, stabbed, shot, robbed, raped, and broken into. Agreed on the rapid rail system, if the final stop was Laredo and it came back empty every time.

  • mugofstout Mar 9, 2007

    NotSurprised....don't be silly, i like to play on here, but you know exactly who it is.

  • smoothtip99 Mar 9, 2007

    We need a rapid rail system. Urgent.

  • dyingtoknow Mar 9, 2007

    "And we all know what makes up the majority of these groups..so they will still be there."

    What groups are you referring too?

  • normalthinking Mar 9, 2007

    just have to agree with all the above comments until Durham gets rid of the crime and its associates then there is no chance. Durham's police have a long history of close association with the criminal element. I tened bar at the Moose Lodge many years ago and there was a high stakes poker game 3 mights a week with the chief of dectectives there at every game. the clean up needs to start at the top

  • Crumps Br0ther Mar 9, 2007

    Durham, NC's answer to Detroit.

  • SK Mar 9, 2007

    As somebody who works in Downtown Durham, the two comments below are right on target.

    Durham really needs to get the criminal element out of downtown. We should be looking for somebody like Rudy Guiliani who can really clean up the city (like he did for New York).

    Get rid of the beggers, drug dealers and gangs, enforce traffic laws (you can some really loony, probably unlicensed drivers), and you might see something good happen to downtown Durham. The potential is definitely there.

  • BIG YAWN Mar 9, 2007

    They need to cast a net....a "drag net"!