Restoration Innovation

Kannapolis, North Carolina, was once a booming mill town in the state’s Piedmont region. Cannon Mills, one of the world’s largest producers of sheets and towels, propelled that boom. But when the textile industry started to plummet, so too did the town’s economy. Kannapolis suffered the biggest permanent layoff in North Carolina history when Pillowtex Corp., a successor to Cannon Mills, declared bankruptcy. Overnight, more than 7,600 people lost their jobs, and the city has since struggled to rebuild its downtown. Nearly half of the area remained vacant, and many historic structures languished in various states of disrepair. Fortunately, the UNC School of Government Development Finance Initiative (DFI) has brought new hope.

The initiative, which provides legal, financial, and development expertise to help struggling communities thrive, will help restore downtown Kannapolis to a vibrant, urban center with economic and cultural activity and nearly 300 new residential units. Discussions about additional public commitments that will attract private investment are under way.

Working on more than 100 projects in more than 70 communities throughout the state, DFI has attracted an expected $1 billion in private investment over the next ten years. DFI teams are reinvigorating local economies to help them function and flourish in the future. So many communities like Kannapolis need DFI’s help, and greater resources will enable the initiative to extend its reach even further.

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