by Susan London
In September 2016, recognizing the need to adequately prepare for explosive population growth, the Town of Rolesville made the first steps toward professional economic development efforts when it signed a 9-month, $58,500 contract with Jennifer Mizelle of The Town Builders Consulting Group, LLC.
Mizelle’s responsibilities include establishing the framework for an economic development program and acting as the Town’s economic developer until the position is transitioned to a full-time employee in the spring of 2017.
“I’ve been asking for it for several years,” said Mayor Frank Eagles who, along with Town Manager Bryan Hicks, had previously been trying to handle the job along with their other day-to-day duties.
“We felt we needed to have someone with expertise and experience to recruit stores and businesses that people were asking for.” He added that with the opening of the bypass in July of 2015, everyone felt that having an economic development person was particularly timely.
Over the last several years Rolesville has found itself in the spotlight as it has seen a 550% increase in residential growth from 2000 when there were 989 residents, to 2016 where that number has grown to approximately 6,500. Along with this huge increase comes the need for retail and other commercial business to provide services and tax revenue to the growing population.
Mizelle, who spent 20 years with the Town of Holly Springs, first as Community Development Director from 1996 to 1998 and then as Economic Development Director from 1998 until her retirement in 2016, crossed paths with Mayor Eagles and Bryan Hicks during their exploration of economic development with other Wake County professionals. Her expertise was a good fit.
“The Rolesville situation couldn’t have been at a better time for me and I think for them,” said Mizelle. “It’s really fun to be here – there’s so much opportunity.”
She sees many similarities between Rolesville and Holly Springs in regard to population and the ratio of commercial to residential tax revenues.
In 1998, Holly Springs also had about 6,500 residents and with an approximately 90% residential tax base component and 10% commercial. Currently, Rolesville has a similar population with a residential tax base component of about 87% and commercial tax base component of 13%. Ideally, that ratio should be closer to 70% residential and 30% commercial, according to Mizelle.
The first several months of the contract have been spent working in the discovery phase, as Mizelle has familiarized herself with Rolesville’s business climate, traffic counts, and mass transportation offerings. She has been meeting business owners and leaders in the community, and determining what the Town has to offer in regard to land and commercial space.
Over the coming months, she will be expanding the marketing materials currently in place and overseeing the design of the economic development website.
The new website will be linked to the Town site, will provide relevant demographic data, and will tie in with Xceligent, a real estate database that offers a comprehensive listing of all land and commercial space currently available in the town.
Mizelle believes there are retailers taking a look at the town based on the demographics, growth and accolades it has been receiving lately.
As the end of Mizelle’s contract approaches in May, 2017, she will be initiating a transition plan to a permanent Economic Development professional, and identifying an additional scope of services that will be required of the position.
Mayor Eagles said he would like to initially focus on attracting restaurants and small businesses to town and Mizelle said, “ideally we would like to see some more retail and commercial businesses that are in the planning stages to locate here … certainly we would like to see more non-residential development.”
Although one can’t really control when that happens, Mizelle has told the Town leaders that they need to be positioned to be ready for that.
Categories: In the Forest