Good News Amid High Unemployment
Back in September, there was sadness being served at the corner of Main & Church streets, instead of the coffee and sandwiches that were once on the menu. The owners of the Main Street Cafe, lured out of town by an attractive job offer, had decided to close the place. In a community that's struggling with high unemployment, there were plenty of concerns that the prominent corner would sit empty indefinitely.
Millions of Americans are out of work; many of those who are fortunate enough to still draw a paycheck are pulling back their spending and refraining from risk taking like never before. Then there are folks like Evelyn West and Gloria Wooding, who are venturing out into an economic storm so many are trying to avoid. They re-opened a new Main Street Cafe in the same location in early October.
Evelyn, who was working in insurance before leaving to start the restaurant, knows the timing raises eyebrows. "Crazy, right?" she says. "I've lived here my whole life and as long as I can remember, there's always been something in this spot. It's such a great spot and it's a great location and it was one more Tarboro business that was going to be closed and I just didn't want to see that."
Evelyn's Aunt--and restaurant co-owner--Gloria Wooding has run restaurants before. They plan to keep the menu simple: sandwiches, soups, desserts, coffee. It's so far, so good they say, as far as business is concerned. The people of Tarboro seem grateful to have a new restaurant up-and-running so quickly, Evelyn says. I've had a huge outpouring of support. "People tell me all the time how thankful they are that we're open, how glad they are to see something still going on here."
Edgecombe County has plans to move dozens of workers to the former Embarq Communications building downtown. That could translate into a steady stream of folks coming through the doors at lunch time, a potential that factored into Evelyn and Glenda's decision to open Main Street Cafe when they did. It's also led the owners of Bud's grill to open a new downtown establishment, the Classic Diner.
There's also good news a few miles away from Tarboro, in the town of Pinetops, where industrial transformer manufacturer ABB is announcing plans to expand its oeprations. The planned expansion could eventually create 60 jobs.
All the good news is still muted by the fact that Edgecombe County's unemployment rate stands at more than 16 percent right now--and goes even higher when it's seasonally adjusted. Only one of North Carolina's 100 counties has a higher percentage of its people out of work. But, if nothing else, the restaurant openings and business expansions are giving the people of Edgecombe County some encouragement and hope--two things that are too often in short supply.
Posted by Rob Holliday at 8:04 PM