JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – “Proud of our past. A passion for progress.” Those are the words Jacksonville embodies, a city once primarily known only for it’s military base and close proximity to the beach.
But in recent years, the city has seen a significant change. Economic development – dependent on military expansion.
“We’ve had significant growth as a result of our military growth in the area. That’s also obviously stimulated the commercial growth,” said Dan Oliver, Deputy Director of the Jacksonville/Onslow Economic Development.
The commercial growth is evident, especially on Western Blvd. Streets that were once vacant properties and empty lots are now bustling with retail shops, chain restaurants, and businesses.
“It’s been very interesting to watch what’s going on in Jacksonville because we do continue to see the commercial growth”, said Laurette Leagon, President of the Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce. “As far as our retailers and our restaurants, we’re getting good, franchise type businesses. That’s drawing shoppers from our surrounding counties.”
Although many areas of the town have seen expansion, residents think there’s a lot that still needs to be done.
Bob Beck, the owner of Marina Cafe, thinks downtown still needs some improvement. “The people who come to Jacksonville, they come to Onslow county. Most of them are headed to Swansboro or the beaches. But downtown could be a stop if it was something attractive to stop at and had some shops and restaurants.”
Expanding downtown is a primary focus for the Chamber of Commerce. They plan to revitalize that area, hoping it will become a destination within the town.
“What I hope to see would be re-development,” said Laurette Leagon. We do have some areas of Jacksonville that need some re-development. There’s vacant buildings, there’s older buildings, and they just served their purpose. So it’s time for those to go away.. and let’s start developing these new areas.”
A positive outlook for the future of Jacksonville. Proud of their past, with a passion for progress.