North Notes: Unofficial Downtown Robbins Living Room Set to Reopen
Deep River Coffee Co. — the unofficial “downtown living room” for NC STEP and the programs that grew out of it — will reopen next month.
Tommy Gibbons and family are its new owners.
“We hope to be open in early February” Gibbons said. “Our plans are to keep the things that worked at the coffee shop and add additional items to make it better. You’ll see more food, such as sandwiches and cold drinks in addition to all types of coffee and frozen drinks.”
Gibbons has been in the restaurant business for six years in the Southern Pines area. He said he enjoys working in a customer-based service business.
“I see Deep River Coffee as an adventure for me and my family,” he said. “Lots of people have already stopped in to wish us well. I think you’ll notice some changes right away.”
One thing that’s coming back is “Open Mic” night. One new addition will be a big flat-screen television for special events. Gibbons said he will continue the tradition established by Randall Moore and Tiffany Evans (the founders and former owners) of working with the community to promote outdoor-based events.
“I grew up on Deep River, so I definitely want to help promote local outdoor activities,” Gibbons said. “And we’ll have fast Internet access and offer a space for groups to hold meetings. We have big plans, but it won’t happen all at once. It may take some time to roll out.”
High-speed Internet is coming to Robbins through an agreement the town made recently with Broadlink Wireless, a Moore County company that will be opening up the Robbins area. According to Tim Roberts, president of Broadlink, technology excels in rural areas because the wireless signal travels long distances through the air without needing cable or fiber.
Broadlink will provide Internet services for the municipality’s offices, its police, fire and other local “first responders” without charge in return for being able to have its antennas installed on two town water tanks.
Fee-based high speed wireless service will then be available throughout the area reachable by the signal from those antennas.
“Many people in the Robbins area have not been able to get fast and reliable Internet because of where they live,” Roberts said. “Frankly, it’s difficult to take an educational course online, fill out an employment application, or renew your car registration online at (dial-up) speeds.”
Broadlink expects the entire town to be open within 60 days, according to Roberts.
STEP-funded matching grants to help businesses new and old are now being offered by Robbins through REAP (Robbins Economic Advancement Program). One program, the Façade Improvement Project, was officially up and running last year. Now three REAP grant programs are taking applications, according to Randall Moore, the town’s marketing director. They are:
n Façade Improvement Program: matching funds for building owners/business owners to update store fronts.
n Joint Marketing Program: matching funds to promote businesses and the town.
n Town Targeted REAP Grants: matching funds for targeted business development such as a bed and breakfast inn, full- service restaurant, outdoor outfitter, specialty retail and downtown office space.
“Three businesses have applied,” Moore said. “Two received reimbursement checks for their efforts, and the third project has been approved. The purpose of the joint marketing program is to create a stronger local economy by helping individual businesses reach customers and promote their goods and services. Robbins needs strong businesses to create jobs, encourage private investment and rebuild downtown. The joint aspect refers to highlighting not only the individual business, but to reminding people to think local when shopping and doing business.”
Targeted REAP Grants are an incentive aimed at attracting specific types of businesses that will spur economic growth, add quality of life and help to rebuild the downtown. These businesses are outlined in the NC STEP Master Plan as part of a comprehensive outdoor recreation and tourism strategy.
Downtown office space has also been added as a category eligible for Targeted REAP Grants.
“Get an application at Town Hall or on the town Web site at www.TownofRobbins.com,” Moore said. “The goal of the REAP Board is to spur new start-ups and improve existing business.”
Main Street Update
Moore is encouraging Robbins area residents to come out next week to see what the Main Street program has been doing.
The Small Town Main Street staff will present the results of public input back to the community at 6 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
“It’s the culmination of three monthly meetings, numerous surveys and economic data collection,” Moore said. “Main Street has a proven record of helping people create what they want in their town. Main Street does it by helping to organize citizens around time-tested principles of small town revitalization. Please come see what members of the community have been working on in regard to design, promotion and economic restructuring.”
Small Town Main Street is a three year program operated by the N.C. Department of Commerce that provides coaches and design assistance to towns like Robbins.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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