People are what makes Franklin shine

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 18, 2019


The mission of our organization is as follows: To diversify the economy, create high quality jobs and provide a future for the families and youth of Franklin and Southampton. The end portion of our mantra compels our office daily: We exist to play a small role in leaving Franklin better than when we ‘found’ it. Our office, along with many other great organizations, strives for excellence in bringing new industries and businesses to our city limits, champion our small business owners and help elevate community events and activities, which all funnel into providing the best future for our citizens.

The STARTUP competition is in its third iteration, with 13 new businesses competing for a grand prize of $20,000. Downtown Franklin has seen the six winners thrive as a result of this program. A particularly interesting characteristic of these businesses is all business owners fall into the ‘Millennial/Generation X’ category. Younger families are seeing the benefit of low cost of living and a tight-knit community to not only reside in but also start a business. This program has also created a buzz in Downtown Franklin leading to eight other businesses opening with more in the works.

We have also seen the great drive of three local pharmacists who came together and decided to not let the Farm Fresh closure end their employment in Franklin. Instead, they put time and dollars into opening a new pharmacy and coffee shop, “Franklin Hometown Pharmacy.” Not only are they betting on this city, but they also actively pursue community change with their ‘Cup of Kindness’ program. Each month, the shop selects a local non-profit organization and donates a portion of their drink sales.

Sheet Metal Products opened its “new” doors at the beginning of 2018, rehabilitating a building that sat vacant for more than 10 years, bringing new activity and machinery and tools to our city. We also look forward to seeing Repair Tech build their new “home” in Pretlow Industrial Park. They recently announced their decision to relocate into the City of Franklin limits, investing over $1M.

Over the last three years, the Franklin Business Center has maintained an average occupancy rate of 73 percent, signed an average of 11 leases a year for new or expanding businesses and has seen four clients graduate into the city of Franklin, keeping 82 jobs local.

Business is not the only thing that keeps people coming to Franklin. Numerous volunteers with the Downtown Franklin Association and Blackwater Community Events provide great fun for citizens and visitors alike. Every Wednesday night, when the temperatures start to rise, you can walk the streets and admire classic and custom cars while enjoying the shops and food. On Thursday night, people enjoy live bands down by the Blackwater River at the free concerts. Franklin also has the laughs with the monthly Comedy Club at Main Event and is a great resource for fresh produce and unique finds at Franklin’s Market on Main.

The thing that really makes this city shine is the people. The store owners that give customers unique experiences. The business professionals that become family over the years. The citizens that pour their hearts into supporting this place we all call home. We are thrilled to have seen the outpour of support and comments in defense of this city within the recent days. It, proverbially, takes a village, and the pride of our residents is critical to being able to move the city in the right direction together. We are honored to represent this great city and together we will continue to improve this community.

Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. Board of Directors

Brian Hedgepeth, chairman

Warren Beale

Harriet Duck

Felicia Blow

Harrell Turner