Burgaw takes steps to welcome new businesses - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Burgaw takes steps to welcome new businesses

Town board members say they hope their recent action on impact fees will encourage small business operators to consider downtown Burgaw for some type of business opportunity. (Source: WECT) Town board members say they hope their recent action on impact fees will encourage small business operators to consider downtown Burgaw for some type of business opportunity. (Source: WECT)
BURGAW, NC (WECT) -

When the super low price box stores come to a small town, it usually means the nail in the coffin for the small Mom and Pop businesses. But as the Town of Burgaw gets ready to welcome WalMart to the area, town leaders there have taken steps to strengthen its downtown business district.

There is now an effort to have the parking spaces around the Pender County Courthouse occupied by people who are making the trip to downtown Burgaw to shop with the local merchants.

Led by Eugene Milligan, who was sworn in as the town's Mayor last fall, the Burgaw town government has made it easier for new businesses to set up shop in the downtown area. 

"The Commissioners have realized that the town center is the heart of all of Burgaw and in an attempt to stimulate some growth down here, they removed the impact fees in the town center," said Burgaw Mayor Eugene Milligan. "This will allow Mom and Pop to come in and open up boutiques stores, like you see around the town coffee shops, small restaurants, fine food shops and boutique shops like small clothing stores and the removal of the impact fees makes it affordable for a start up business."

A look around downtown Burgaw shows many vacant store fronts, with for rent signs displayed. Town board members say they hope their recent action on impact fees will encourage small business operators to consider downtown Burgaw for some type of business opportunity. 

The action by the town board has been welcomed by at least one current downtown Burgaw business owner.

Chris Walker operates a business called "The Nifty Place."

After investing several thousands of dollars in remodeling, Walker has begun having a series of entertainers perform in his business, hoping to bring more people to downtown Burgaw, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. 

"We have a downtown that once was very vital but we have stepped out and started doing some entertainment at night, and it is working - and all under a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere, which is what we want the whole town to be about," Walker said.

Many of the downtown buildings in Burgaw are two storied structures. Town leaders are urging current business owners to covert the unused space above their business into apartments in hopes of bringing new residents to the town.  

"And when you have a thriving center, the rest of the town will thrive as well," Milligan said.

Milligan also says if this new effort to attract businesses to downtown Burgaw works, it could be expanded to include the entire town in the future.

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