The old Warren C. Coleman Mill at 625 Main Street in Concord is still a fantastic building that could be used as an arts incubator attracting creative individuals. Already the home of Southern Grace Distilleries, the old mill could attract other unique businesses to revitalize this neighborhood. There are still plenty of spaces available here and with space for artists and writers as well as room for a recording studio, this could be a magnet for creative individuals if used properly.
The Coleman Manufacturing Company (1899–1904) was the first cotton mill in the United States owned and operated by African Americans, located in Concord. Today, it could become a destination with other businesses sharing the spirit of Southern Grace Distilleries and bringing a creative industry to the mill.
Below is one example of a community using the “creative” industry to redevelop itself:
Central Park NC is undertaking the transformation of a 187,000 square foot former textile mill to create STARworks Center for Creative Enterprises and new home to Central Park NC. The original building was built in the late 1800s as the Carolina Collegiate and Agriculture Institute, and later, the Country Life Academy. From the early 1940s until 2001, the building was used to manufacture hosiery. But the company moved their manufacturing to Mexico and the local community lost over 1000 jobs when the 12-acre, 11-building facility was shut down.
Job creation programming at STARworks is entrepreneurial in nature and designed to serve the creative, agricultural, and alternative energy sectors of our regional economy. The STARworks project advances the Central Park strategy by providing a focused means of growing and developing creative enterprises and individuals for placement in the downtowns of our small communities and to develop agricultural entrepreneurs to replace the farmers that are retiring.
Creative－A report released by the North Carolina Arts Council showed that nearly four percent of total employment in North Carolina includes creative workers who generate almost $4 billion in wages. According to the study, “Clusters of Creativity: The Role of Arts in North Carolina’s Economy”, nearly 159,000 people are employed in creative industries across the state ―surpassing traditional employers, such as textiles and furniture manufacturers and using hiring methods for this purpose and resources as a police check for background checks. The study also found that counties with higher proportions of workers in arts-related occupations are more likely to retain current residents and attract new ones.
Agriculture－Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects benefit communities by keeping food dollars in the local communities; connecting local farmers with local consumers; helping to develop a regional food supply and strong local economy; maintaining a sense of community; encouraging land stewardship; and honoring the knowledge and experience of growers and producers working with small to medium farms. Yet there are very few CSAs in our region and none within Montgomery County… until now. STARworks has an entrepreneurial garden/CSA which benefits the local community by providing high quality, locally produced food, stresses the cultural diversity of the community through connections to food, and helps develop sustainable farming skills as well as new culinary skills using fresh, seasonal foods. The project is a social enterprise benefiting the broader sustainable development of the Central Park NC organization.