Fayettevillehas been fighting to bring back its center city for years. New money and new plans paved the way for big announcements that will put downtown development into overdrive.
Nearly 700 people gathered in Fayetteville on Tuesday to listen to an update on the state of their community.
Much of the good news comes from a new effort to keep downtown on the rebound.
The city and private sector are working together.Advanced Internet Technology (AIT), based in the center city, will create a for-profit corporation to attract new businesses.
CP&LandNorth Carolina Natural Gaswill contribute $1 million toward the redevelopment of downtown properties. Public money is also around the corner for an incentives package and high-tech communication.
A new group has been formed to bring the public and private sectors together. The Coalition for the Development of Fayetteville's Center City is committed to the vision.
"When you get people here like you had today, focused on a set of objectives, quality of life, economic development, I think it's great," says AIT President Clarence Briggs.
Exciting things are happening downtown, but Gary Cooper, chairman of theFayetteville Chamber of Commerce, says the city still has a lot of work to do on its economy.
He believes the city's economic base is still not on a solid foundation, and an economic plan for the future must be put in place.
The city's rough image is also a concern. Cooper says the only way it can be improved is by changing the mindset of the people who live and work there.
"I've come to believe that we hold ourselves in lower esteem than anybody anywhere else does," Cooper says. "We must change the way we perceive ourselves as a community, and realize that our challenges are the same as any other community."
Cooper is challenging the community to work together to change the negative thinking into something positive.