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Awards and Press


​WAXHAW, NC – The Waxhaw Small Town Main Street program today announced that a local project was recognized in the 2013 North Carolina Small Town Main Street Awards competition. The Town’s Community Public Art Plan won top honors in the category of Organization, receiving an Award of Merit.


The project was a collaborative public/private/civic partnership built on long- and short-term organizational planning goals coordinated by members of the Town of Waxhaw Beautification Committee and Waxhaw’s Small Town Main Street committee under the direction of consultant Geraldine Plato of PLATO Strategies.


The project’s intent was to leverage a powerful sense of place through the strategic use of existing assets, with an emphasis on local culture and arts. An additional objective was to help preserve Waxhaw’s history, while increasing cultural growth and exposure to a diversity of art all while addressing complex and changing issues facing the downtown business environment. The community-based initiative that evolved produced a detailed study and a practical, hands-on, five-year action plan with a resounding priority placed on downtown development through public art.

The NC Small Town Main Street Awards competition recognizes the outstanding achievements of participating communities in organization, design, economic restructuring, and promotion: the four key areas of the downtown revitalization program’s emphasis.

From left to right: Waxhaw Town Manager, Mike McLaurin; Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Pat Mitchell; Waxhaw Town Commissioner, Paul Fitzgerald; creative community builder at PLATO Strategies,Geraldine Plato.


On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Liz Parham, director of Urban Development at the NC Department of Commerce, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dr. Pat Mitchell presented the Small Town Main Street Awards during the North Carolina Main Street annual awards ceremony at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation created the Main Street program, which uses a downtown revitalization strategy for smaller towns based on economic revitalization within the context of historic preservation. North Carolina was selected as an original Main Street state in 1980, and in 2003 the Office of Urban Development established the NC Small Town Main Street program. Since its inception, NC Small Town Main Street has selected 50 communities from across the state to participate in the program.


The Small Town Main Street program focuses on the growing number of small, rural towns that need downtown development assistance but are not likely, due to size or resource limitations, to pursue the regular Main Street program. Selected communities receive on-site technical assistance from the Small Town Main Street staff in areas including organizational development, market analysis, business assistance, promotions and design.

Pat Mitchell, NC Commerce Department; Waxhaw NC, public Art, NC Main Street Award, Geraldine Plato


By Rebecca Bunch, staff writer for the Chowan Herald

July 2015


Edenton, NC — Access to the arts and cultural activities within a city have long been tied to high quality of life and a strong economy. Public art is a successful way to enhance a community’s access to the arts in a coherent and inspirational way. Destination Downtown Edenton, along with its partners, announced today that it will undertake a master planning process to develop a robust public art plan for the community. The project will begin in August and will result in recommendations for the placement and types of public art for Edenton, as well as an action plan for implementation.

The project will be led by Plato Strategies and a public engagement process built on collaboration with Destination Downtown Edenton, The Preservation Commission, Tourism Development Authority, town employees, the Main Street Downtown Development Board, local artists, local arts and cultural organizations, and the citizens of Edenton. Plato Strategies’ principal is Geraldine Plato, a Western North Carolina based consultant with a strong experience working in the arts and community development. Plato will work with local stakeholders to create a customized plan to provide a community-driven public arts plan that speaks to Edenton’s creativity and originality, and highlights local artistic talents.

“Connection to place is one of the key reasons people want to stay in a community and move to a com- munity. It’s also a key driver to economic development,” Plato explains. “A place’s creative and artistic spirit and unique local character is one reason that residents and visitors alike feel such connections. What we’re trying to do with this plan is reflect on and pay homage to the unique character that Edenton has already, and expand on it using the arts. Public art in the community is a great way to do this. We hope that it can influence and result in a wide variety of enhancements and investments in the future.”

The public engagement part of the public art planning process will kick off in September. Plato will work with Destination Downtown Edenton and its partners to hold meetings with and survey stakeholders throughout the fall. Feedback is welcome throughout the process, however, by contacting Harriss or Plato. 


North Carolina Main Street and Small Town Main Street Awards represent some of the very best revitalization work taking place in our state. Whether it’s a streetscape project that makes the central business district more walkable and attractive, a building rehabilitation that provides space for exciting new businesses, a special event that builds on the heritage of the community, or one of many other exemplary projects that contributes to the vitality of Main Street downtowns, these award-winners are outstanding examples of partnerships, innovation, quality, and sustainability and serve as models for other small towns and cities throughout North Carolina.

Liz Parham, Director, Office of Urban Development at the NC Department of Commerce

Raleigh, North Carolina

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