Lawmaker tours downtown shops
The Douglas Block is a shining example of redevelopment done right, according to a congressman who toured downtown Rocky Mount.
U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-1st District, continued his regional Jobs First Small Business Tour on Thursday in Rocky Mount. Beginning at Nancy’s Creation Hair Salon, Butterfield toured downtown.
Nancy Pitchford Turner said she felt special for Butterfield to have chosen her business for his tour's first Rocky Mount stop.
“He complimented me on the atmosphere,” Turner said. “It was a really nice visit.”
Turner has been running her salon for eight years. She said she's seen the Douglas Block improve every day over the years. Some of the businesses that were open when she started are long gone though.
“You have to stick with it,” Turner said. “They said it would get better, and it has.”
The Douglas Block is a public-private redevelopment project with the goal of re-sparking a thriving commercial district in downtown Rocky Mount.
For his next stop, Butterfield went around the corner to Wee Care Pediatrics, operated by Dr. Sharon Romney.
In discussing Medicaid, Romney told Butterfield that associated paperwork for Medicaid patients has greatly improved in recent years.
Butterfield said he anticipates North Carolina will expand Medicaid next year.
“We hope to turn that around,” Butterfield said. “We need to help make sure as many people as possible receive quality, affordable health care.”
While looking around the clinic, Butterfield told Romney he was impressed with what she’s accomplished.
“Keep doing what you're doing,” Butterfield said.
Romney showed Butterfield a wall in the hallway where patient photos and artwork are on display. One poster features the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his famous 1960s “I have a dream” speech first delivered in Rocky Mount before being presented in Washington, D.C.
“I was there,” Butterfield said of the Rocky Mount speech. “Front row with my daddy.”
Butterfield was instrumental in securing seed funding for the Douglas Bock. He said it has made him proud to see the area evolve.
“It's a great example of good use of federal, state and local funding,” Butterfield said.
Nash County has received a lot of investment over the years so it was important for the Douglas Block to receive funding and the Event Center be located on the Edgecombe County side of Rocky Mount, Butterfield said.
Butterfield toured other downtown businesses before having lunch at the Prime Smokehouse.
The Jobs First Small Business Tour is part of Butterfield’s Jobs & Justice Agenda.
“The more I know, the more effective I can be,” Butterfield said.