LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday threw its support — and money — behind a planned arts festival that organizers say could boost the region’s economy.
The week-long festival, sponsored by the Robeson County Arts Council, will be held from April 6 through April 12 and feature the Gatsby era of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Mary Ann Masters, the council’s president, told the commissioners. It will include such events as a vintage auto show, including autos owned by Commissioner David Edge and local businessman Dick Taylor, arts, crafts and antiques shows, and other entertainment aimed at “appealing to everyone.”
According to Masters and Nila Chamberlain, a designer and artist from Fairmont who is helping to organize the festival, the event is likely to draw thousands of people, potentially adding millions of dollars to the economy. They said it has been proven in such areas as Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilson that arts events can attract tourists and “drive the economy.”
“The arts can help the economy in a big way if we build the foundation,” Chamberlain said.
Masters told the commissioners that the event will be marketed regionally. It will not be a Lumberton event, she said, but would have multiple venues throughout the county.
Masters said plans are to make it an annual celebration.
“We feel there are so many talented artists in this area that need a place to show their work,” she said. “We hope this can lead to more art shows.”
The commissioners agreed to provide $5,000 to help cover the cost of the festival. The Lumberton City Council has already put $5,000 toward marketing the event, and Masters said she hopes to get $10,000 more from the city to cover operating costs.
“This should be viewed as opportunities, not just as events,” Arnold West, chairman of the Lumberton Tourism Development Authority, said after the meeting. “This adds to our local economy, but more to our community pride.”
In other business, the commissioners:
— Approved the performance agreement and incentives for an industry to locate at the industrial park in St. Pauls. According to Greg Cummings, the county’s industrial recruiter, “Project Emerald” would mean a $4 million investment in a building and machinery, and create 25 to 30 jobs paying an average of $12 an hour plus benefits.
Cummings said that this would be the first industry to locate in the St. Pauls park.
— Approved a $3,750 contract with PSCI Engineers, of Pembroke, to provide an environmental site assessment for the property on Sixth Street where the old county jail is located. According to Charles Britt, the county’s General Services manager, the assessment is needed because there is a potential buyer.
— Re-elected Noah Woods as the board’s chairman, and Tom Taylor as vice chairman.
— Appointed Daniel Walters, a dentist, to serve on the county’s Board of Health.