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{mosimage}Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation announced that three local projects were recognized for their excellence in the 2007 NC Main Street Awards competition. Winners of top honors are the Smithfield Historic Area Revitalization Plan (S.H.A.R.P) in the category of Best Economic Development Incentive Plan, the Neuse Office Complex in the category of Best New Development/New Construction Project and the Smithfield Historic Masonic Lodge in the category of Best Historic Rehabilitation Project.

The NC Main Street Program's annual awards competition recognizes the outstanding achievements of participating communities in categories reflecting the four areas emphasized by Main Street: organization, design, economic restructuring and promotion. Entries are judged by a panel that includes state Main Street program staff and other professionals in downtown development, historic preservation and the arts.

{mosimage}Following the judging of the 62 entries nominated by 21 of the program's communities, Office of Urban Development Director Rodney Swink remarked, "NC Main Street communities continue to exemplify the best in downtown redevelopment as evidenced by this year's award-winning work. From small projects to large, the quality of investment is outstanding and getting better. Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities are the leaders, and these projects are the models from which others will learn."

In their comments about the winning entries, the jury {quotes}applauded the Smithfield Historic Area Revitalization Plan as bold - a great way to encourage reinvestment and development.{/quotes} Jury members saluted the owners of the Neuse Office Complex for taking on this important gateway project and making such a significant investment in downtown. The Smithfield Historic Masonic Lodge restoration brought praise from the panel members, who said it was beautifully done with such loving attention to historic detail, resulting in the saving of a major piece of Smithfield's tradition and history.

On January 31, 2007, Swink, NC Secretary of Commerce James T. Fain, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Cleve Simpson presented these awards during the North Carolina Main Street Annual Awards Program at the Imperial Centre in Rocky Mount. Each winner received an Award of Merit, and Certificates of Special Recognition were presented for several outstanding non-winning entries.

{mosimage}Based on economic revitalization within the context of historic preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation created the Main Street program to share an effective downtown revitalization strategy which they had developed for smaller towns. Selected as an original Main Street State in 1980, North Carolina has seen its program grow from five communities to 53. The economic impact of the program has grown as well. Public and private investment in North Carolina Main Street downtowns is totals more than $1 billion dollars.

The North Carolina Main Street Program provides technical assistance, education and networking opportunities to its communities. The program is part of the Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance.