Updated: Mar 15
The booming voice of the former Fike principal, Tom Stott, rang through our living room in northern Indiana, in the winter of 1996. As the chairperson of the "pull-pitt" committee of Westview Christian Church, he invited us to visit Wilson, North Carolina, "to see what y'all think."
It was a brief and positive visit, placing Wilson in our top two choices of places to move: Wilson NC vs. Meridian MS. One job package included more money and a membership to the country club. The other... well... it was Wilson. Closer to UNC football... check. Closer to family... check.
There were tangible differences between our choices, such as access to schools and work, but there were the intangibles too. There was a spirit of vitality and joy in the people we met here. There was civic pride in what was happening for young children; Saturday mornings at Cavalier park; the hard work of teachers at the elementary schools, and the thriving arts community that included activities and groups for kids. All kids.
I'd lived in 5 other states before moving to Wilson, so Wilson, in my mind, was just another place. Another stop along the way.
We didn't know the impact of our decision right away, but in the years that followed we came to love Wilson as much as those who invited us to "check it out" said they did.
So... Why Wilson? To say "the people," sounds like the Sunday school answer... the expected answer. The PC answer. In my experience one can find his or her way through most any community, discovering a favorite restaurant or place to hang out, and the people that regularly visit there become "your people." Like an arranged marriage, eventually one comes to find joy with whoever is there as your community.
But still, it is the people. I've been privileged to serve on the volunteer committee that plans the NC Whirligig Festival each year, and I can say without equivocation that I'd take a bullet for any one of the fine people who serve on that board. I could say the same about the group of clients I've built over our years in business, first as a leader in the business community as the Director of the Wilson Business Alliance, and now as the owner of Wilson's only full-service advertising agency, Big Biz Box, the sponsor of this website.
The answer to "why Wilson" isn't just personal. The city government works here. When they say they're going to collect bulk items on Tuesday, they do it. When they close for a holiday and say the offices will reopen the following morning, someone is there to answer the phone. On time. That's not always true of city government. Certainly there are exceptions, but my experience is much positive than not.
The leaders of our city also have vision; Greenlight and other services are a testament to a visionary hope, a desire to go beyond the expected, and build a hopeful future for our community. That sort of vision matters, even if it's not finished yet.
The new Gig East Exchange office, right across the street from my office, is a visible example of this optimistic vision. The offices aren't yet fully rented, but the coffee is hot and the doors are open.
Why Wilson? We are mostly self-sustaining here. We have access to most everything one needs to live. Sure, the proximity to Raleigh and the Atlantic coast gives us plenty of reasons to travel, but we don't have to.
There are three distinct business corridors in Wilson: the 264 / Raleigh Road / Corporate business area; the Brentwood, North Nash / Airport Rd corridor; and Wilson downtown. I chose to locate my business in Historic Downtown Wilson for two simple reasons: there is a plan for vitalization and growth, and there is a community of support here. That's not true in every community.
Ultimately, why Wilson? Because even when I've been invited to "see what we're about" by other people in other places, I've always chosen to stay here. The people, support, community institutions, unique local businesses and opportunities here always outweighed the opportunities elsewhere. There is no Act for Youth program in Denver Co. There is no Paul's of NY Chicken Pizza in Greenville NC. Insert your favorite restaurant's name, local watering hole's menu, local character's signature expression, here. Only here. Only Wilson.
This website is dedicated to the best of our community. Our hope is that you'll find access to entertainment and event information here. That you'll find your next favorite restaurant or store or business here. That you'll learn something you didn't know about our city here. That you'll interact with other citizens, sharing experiences and your vision for what our community can grow to be. That you'll share your Wilsonality: what makes us a great place to live.
Only here. Only Wilson.