Downtown Mooresville is riding out the long national recession almost as if there weren't one.
Buildings are being renovated, restaurants and other retailers are moving in, and new second-floor offices continue to fill.
"To have this much activity downtown, it's phenomenal," said Kim Atkins, executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission. "I think it really bodes well as the region begins to recover. We should be in a really strong position."
In a recent interview, Atkins cited the various new businesses that have opened downtown and existing retailers that have expanded:
ArtWorks on Main is now offering pottery classes and has installed a kiln.
Pie in the Sky has grown by several hundred square feet and has a new website.
Four Corners Framing & Gallery added an exclusive new line of clothing.
Whit Miller Shoe Repair has added business by picking up shoes for repair each week at Lowe's Companies Inc. in nearby Mount Mourne. Whit Miller also has added new product lines, including Birkenstocks.
The new owners of Mooresville Ice Cream Co. have spruced up their retail area and expanded the company's marketing, Atkins said. The company makes DeLuxe brand ice cream.
They also have worked with the downtown commission to apply for an N.C. Main Street Solutions grant to help expand their space.
Downtown property owner Howard Kosofsky recently said he's invested $3million renovating buildings and created 19 office spaces, 17 of which are occupied.
One of his refurbished buildings houses the new J.J. Wasabi's Grill and Bar. The Daily Grind restaurant is opening soon in another of his renovated Main Street buildings.
Some Mooresville commissioners criticized Kosofsky recently for not fixing a boarded storefront window on another building.
But Kosofsky said he is close to landing one of two restaurants for the space and doesn't want to fix the window before he redoes the storefront, which will be after the tenant signs a lease.
A nightspot called the Bathtub Gin opened in late 2009 in the former Pat's Coffee Shop, and a bakery called the Whirling Whisk opened in another space recently.
Atkins' aim is to get the word out about downtown's successes to more Lake Norman-area residents.
She cited figures from the federal Small Business Administration showing that only 6cents of every dollar spent with a "big-box" retailer stays in a community, while 60cents of every dollar spent with a sole proprietorship does.
"It just has a trickle-down effect on our local economy that is beneficial to all," Atkins said.