Downtown merchants tab Howe as leader

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2007

FRANKLIN—Sometimes the best candidate for the job is right in your back yard.

And so it seems to be so for the Downtown Franklin Association.

Officially beginning work Tuesday, Dan Howe, 52, who has resided in the city for more than two decades, is excited about his new duties as the director of the DFA.

The DFA has been advertising the position since mid-October after former director David Merrick resigned.

&uot;I’ve already been marketing Franklin for more than 22 years,&uot; Howe said. &uot;I’ve raised three sons who have been through the school system here and I know the system works. &uot;They all have successful jobs.

&uot;I’m mostly a people person. That’s what I think marketing is all about.&uot;

DFA President Jack Norvell said, &uot;We are glad to have someone from the area to work the downtown who already knows the people here.&uot;

Howe has been in &uot;corporate America&uot; for 30 years, working in Gastonia for Firestone from 1977 to ’83. He more recently worked as manufacturing manager for Boykins Narrow Fabrics, now known as Narricot Industries—the job opportunity that brought him to Franklin in 1985.

Howe’s love of the city inspired him to apply for the DFA director job opening.

&uot;I want us to thrive and grow,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve worked with people of all shapes, colors, creeds and languages. I fully understand the customer concept. I’ve dealt with customers from all over the world.&uot;

Howe’s ambitions for downtown include getting to know local business owners and their businesses.

&uot;First, you have to take care of what exists,&uot; he said. &uot;What can we do to enhance their businesses? I want to work together with them to improve the quality of their business.

&uot;Also as part of the revitalization of downtown, my goal is to bring more retail and other businesses downtown that people will be interested in visiting and utilizing.

&uot;I think the key to the survival of downtown is to make it grow and improve,&uot; he said. &uot;We have a lot to offer, and already have a good foundation.&uot;

Howe plans on visiting other Main Street communities to see what has worked successfully for those downtowns. The DFA is a member of the Virginia Main Street program, which assists downtowns with revitalization.

&uot;I think it’s important that I’m out there and visible to the people, whether they are business owners or residents. Hopefully, we will also draw people from outside the community.&uot;

He also hopes to broaden the membership of the DFA to prevent the 35 active volunteers from getting overworked.

&uot;This job cannot be successful without a good volunteer base. Franklin has a lot of volunteers. I’ve always been impressed with that.&uot;

Howe said he received a lot of encouragement from people he knew to apply for the job and has an existing rapport with residents and city officials.

&uot;The best way I can thank people for their support is to do a good job,&uot; he said. &uot;If I’m successful, then Franklin is successful in thriving.

&uot;I think everyone wants that.&uot;

Howe is a North Carolina State University graduate and has been married to his wife, Betty, for 12 years.