Tom Blount: Opportunity knocks: How will you respond?

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 02:12 AM

Taking a hint from Paul Williams’ “Lessons Learned” column last week, I’m looking today toward opportunities for High Point in 2013 with positivity.
I believe – despite six negative, one neutral and six positive predictions in my annual Review/Forecast presentations (for 10 organizations) – that 2013 could be a breakout year for our community. Much depends on beginning the year with optimism, shedding the pessimism that has plagued us the last five years.
Why be positive?
• The N.C. Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Art Gallery and High Point Area Arts Council have their acts together as they implement new strategies.
• High Point University continues to set examples for pursuing, achieving and maintaining “extraordinary” for the rest of us, and this year most likely will reveal some plans for future use of the Oak Hollow Mall property.
• Now that the property for Miracle League facilities expansion is in the bag and odds for High Point Central renovations have improved, perhaps, by year’s end, we’ll be closer to or have sealed a deal for having ownership of Simeon Stadium revert to the city of High Point.
• The High Point Market, Economic Development Corp. and Convention & Visitors Bureau all have the right personnel in the right place at the right time to achieve success like we haven’t seen in a decade or more.
• High Point Partners, High Point Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater High Point and High Point First will continue to stir the pot, working to improve what already is here and luring those elements that are missing while seeking a higher quality of life throughout the community.
• City Council, with five new members, has an opportunity to take fresh and innovative approaches to issues. In addition to former council member Bernita Sims being elected mayor, council continuity/institutional-knowledge is assured with former Mayor Becky Smothers and holdovers Britt Moore (at-large) and Foster Douglas (Ward 2) on board. Remember: “newcomer” Judy Mendenhall has experience as both a council member and mayor.
• Follow-through, not only with planning for Uptowne, downtown (market district) and HPU, but  continuing for  Washington Street, SoSi (a several-block area near GTCC’s High Point campus) and Southwest Renewal and preservation of buildings on the former Hedgecock property in north High Point. Planning alone won’t be worth warm spit without execution of key elements of some of the planning that could/should begin in earnest before 2013 runs its course.
• Shopping locally whenever possible – we don’t want to lose Belk, too! But all could go for naught if most of us just sit back and let George do what’s necessary to bring the community together.
Fortunately, activity in the South side (with SoSi and Southwest renewal), the near West side (with Uptowne), the near East side (with Washington Street) are beginning to make progress. But the North side – especially northeast of Deep River —  still is detached. A lot of reaching out — from “both sides” — needs to take place efficiently and effectively if High Point is going to emerge from hard times with the vigor it will take to “get to the next level.”
While money — lots of it — undoubtedly more private than public is vitally important to any significant improvement and growth, whole-community participation [that means you] in a wide variety of ways, is a primary component.
It’s easy, as many of the bloggers do, to sit back and kibitz about what’s wrong or needs changing in High Point. It’s more difficult to actually do something to effect that change.
George is worn out! He’s not going to be able to do it himself. He needs your help! Are you ready and willing to step forward? C’mon. Surprise even the most cynical of us!

Tom Blount retired as editor of The High Point Enterprise in 2012.