For a city or town to grow, its goals must be clearly communicated, and accessible ways to participate must be offered. The Hope Mills Initiative, which took place at Sammio’s on N. Main Street in Hope Mills Tuesday, Dec. 12, accomplished both of these tasks.
This free event was designed to inform the Hope Mills community – residents, businesses and organizations – of the steps the town is taking and is planning to take to build awareness of Hope Mills in Cumberland County, to strengthen Hope Mills’ brand and to further the town’s economic development, according to event coordinator Bill Bowman, publisher of Up & Coming Weekly. Melissa Adams, Hope Mills town manager, added that the other goal was to encourage and foster active participation from community members who want to be more involved in the town’s growth.
“Hope Mills needs and wants a local media vehicle to be able to tell their story,” Bowman said. “Hope Mills is a community of 17,000 people; however, there are over 300,000 people in Cumberland County, and they want to be able to reach out to them.
“The town has taken a major step toward that goal by contracting with and designating Up & Coming Weekly as their local community newspaper. Now, Hope Mills residents have a convenient source of local news and information where they can find out what’s happening throughout Hope Mills. At the same time, they are kept up-to-date on other popular events and programs happening throughout Cumberland County. Now they have a powerful resource to promote, market and advertise the Hope Mills community – its events, amenities, businesses and organizations – to all of Cumberland County.”
The initiative represents a business trifecta of collaboration between Up & Coming Weekly, the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce and the town of Hope Mills. “Hope Mills is growing in population, and unlike years ago when everyone knew everyone, … now our story must be shared through media to reach our community,” said Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner.
Bowman made it clear that Hope Mills’ new community newspaper belongs to everyone: businesses, organizations, elected officials, town staff and, most importantly, the citizens of Hope Mills who want information and to have their voices heard. “To this end, we have invited everyone to submit articles, creative story ideas, comments and opinions on issues concerning the community,” he said.
Adams said, “Any time that we can receive input from the citizens and the community, we can use that to the town’s benefit. By knowing what issues the community and citizens are interested in, we can steer policy, initiatives, programs and information toward those interests.” Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly. com to directly reach to the Hope Mills section editor with your ideas.
Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Robert Van Geons agreed that the all-inclusive approach is best. “Economic and community development is a team effort,” he said. “Every positively motivated citizen is a potential member of our team and can help us grow our local economy. When we bring people together in this way, we break down silos, create partnerships and let people see all the great things that are happening. This is an opportunity to proactively drive our community forward and generate success.”
Special guests at The Hope Mills Initiative included, in addition to Bowman, Warner, Adams and Van Geons: Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce President Jan Spell; Rep. John Szoka (R-District 45); Cumberland County Commissioner Michael Boose; and Better Business Bureau customer service representative Liz Stiles. These community leaders shared their thoughts throughout four sessions that ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Once these business and community leaders heard what the initiative was all about, they wanted to come and let the people know how important Hope Mills is to the overall economic health of Cumberland County” Bowman said. “Everyone was very supportive and contributed to the success of the program.”
The newly appointed Hope Mills board of commissioners, comprised of Warner, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell, Pat Edwards, Jerry Legge, Meg Larson and Jessie Bellflowers, were in attendance as well.
Growth in Hope Mills is already well underway, according to Warner. Just a few examples she gave include the completion of Lake Park, the return of water to the Hope Mills Lake, the planning for a museum and Heritage Park to preserve the town’s history, a multimodal congestion plan in conjunction with the Department of Transportation to ease traffic issues and increase walkability, and a proposed new Public Safety building.
“(We are) moving forward with a vision – a strategic plan with input from everyone to make Hope Mills proud and strong,” Warner said.
“There were no negatives to this initiative,” Bowman said. “We just wanted to let people know that we’re going to start banging the drum loudly for Hope Mills.”
To learn more about how you can be involved in the movement for growth, email hopemills@upandcomingweekly. com or call the Hope Mills Town Hall at (910) 424-4555.
Photo: (Left to Right) Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner; Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce President Jan Spell; Up & Coming Weekly Publisher Bill Bowman