By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The Raeford City Council voted Monday to give a one-time donation of $10,000 to the Downtown Raeford Business Association (DRBA) to help the nonprofit regroup in the wake of the pandemic.
This time a year ago, the DRBA – a nonprofit venture spearheaded by local business owners – was launching plans to host events that would bring attention to downtown Raeford. The group formed out of Gov. Roy Cooper’s “Hometown Strong” initiative, with the goal of sparking new life in downtown.
The organization had planned three activities in 2020 to bring attention to what downtown Raeford has to offer. Live music, a food truck rodeo and a mullet roast were all on the schedule, but the pandemic forced the DRBA to cancel the events. It also caused the organization to hold off on fundraising efforts.
DRBA President Brad Calloway and Vice President Kurt Posey appeared before the city council Monday to ask for financial support to begin to move forward, City Manager Dennis Baxley said.
With the one-time contribution, the DRBA plans to hire a part-time employee to manage its online presence at its website, Baxley said. The website is available online at DowntownRaeford.com.
The organization sent a letter to city council January 26 discussing the matter.
“As the Downtown Raeford Business Association prepared for a series of events during the winter of 2019, our efforts to host civic events to boost exposure of our downtown were halted by COVID-19. We then opted to forgo membership drives so there would not be additional financial burdens on local businesses struggling to survive the COVID storm,” the letter stated. “Now with vaccinations ramping up and a hope that by summer life will return to a somewhat normal routine, we are preparing to pursue our initiatives once again.”
As for planning new events, nothing’s set in stone at the moment, Baxley said.
“They’re at a wait and see point right now, it really just depends on what happens with COVID obviously,” he said.