Hundreds of people gathered at the Carolina Theater on Wednesday to hear business leaders discuss the state of Durham and the city’s economic progress as part of “The Durham Show”.
While acknowledging the negative imprint left on many businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic, executives have consistently expressed optimism about the direction Durham is headed.
WRAL spoke to several people linked to Durham’s growing business scene, including councilor and business owner Leonardo Williams. Williams said the chamber event was pivotal because it reintroduced how the city will move forward.
The rally gave economic stalwarts a chance to celebrate the thousands of jobs and more than $463 million in investments announced last year.
“We’re in the rebound phase,” Williams said. “We have moved our mask mandate to where we can now talk about security mitigation. It gives us the flexibility to talk about how we go out to shop, dine, work, play, live.
County Durham lifted its mask mandate for most indoor settings on Monday.
“What we’re doing now is pivoting on how we’re going to put Covid behind us and prosperity ahead of us,” Williams said.
Williams noted the tension in Ukraine, where American businesses are beginning to feel an economic impact.
“What’s important to us is to continue to support local,” said Nicole Thompson, CEO of Durham Downtown, Inc. years.”
Ryan Regan, vice president of economic development at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, said that since the start of April 2020, County Durham has landed 14 economic development projects. The projects will involve the creation of at least 150 jobs in new or expanding businesses. In total, Regan said the region will create 6,900 new jobs through these announcements.
The county’s population is expected to grow to nearly 450,000 over the next 25 years, according to research from the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2045.