Lenoir, North Carolina, was named an All-America City in 2008. The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues. The award is America's oldest and most prestigious community recognition award. The All-America City Award has encouraged and recognized civic excellence, honoring the following communities of all sizes in which citizens, government, businesses and voluntary organizations work together to address critical local issues:
Lenoir, North Carolina, is a city that epitomizes the power of citizens working together to re-define the future of their community. Known as a furniture manufacturing center for over 100 years, the identity of the city was shaken as thousands of manufacturing jobs were lost from 2000 to 2006 as furniture and textile factories closed or outsourced labor.
Rising to the challenges brought by the rapid loss of its economic base, groups of elected officials, civic organizations and private investors worked together to identify key objectives for achieving the vision for the future of Lenoir. Through the city’s Comprehensive Plan development, the Caldwell Heritage Council’s Strategic Planning process, and the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce’s SWOT analysis for Tourism Development led by Appalachian State University’s Business School, citizens were provided opportunities to participate through neighborhood meetings, public hearings and surveys. The vision that emerged was that of a city with small town charm, economic opportunities for all its citizens, and a quality of life enriched by recreational and cultural activities as well as the health and wellness services necessary for its people to lead healthy, active lives.
The objectives to achieve the vision were as follows:
- Diversify the economic base for Lenoir and revitalize the historic central business district
- Identify, develop and promote the unique cultural, historic and recreational resources of the community to build community pride and increase the potential for tourism revenue
- Provide services to bridge the economic gap for individuals and families created by the loss of jobs