Johnston/So. Wake County

VOL16ISS1 2017

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE—JOHNSTON/SOUTHERN WAKE COUNTIES NC | VOLUME 16—ISSUE 1 26 GARNER Grab your chaps, cowboy boots and brimmed hat. It's time to head to the rodeo — for your taste buds. This past April, the town of Garner, North Carolina, celebrated April Fool's Day with its first-ever springtime food truck rodeo. The event, called "April Food's Day," featured fare from 14 unique eateries and three breweries, with flavors from a handful of cultures including Japanese, Latin, French and Southern. Craft vendors, music and a kids' zone also drew locals to this foodie paradise on Main Street. The new event takes heed from a similar one held each fall — Trick or Eat — a foodstuff festival that draws thousands of visitors to downtown each year and will celebrate its fourth annual affair in October. Both events are sponsored by the Garner Revitalization Association, which strives to bring economic development and historic preservation to downtown Garner. In 2013, their efforts caught the attention of the National Civic League, which named the town one of 10 "All-American Cities" — a designation given to municipalities that develop grassroots solutions for solving community challenges. Often called the "Nobel Prize" for civic accomplishment, the award was presented to Garner for three citizen- led projects involving the Garner Veterans Memorial, Community of Hope Ministries and Garner Performing Arts Center. Today, more than 261,000 people visit this nearly 28,000-person town each year. Just five miles south of Raleigh, it remains one of the most affordable commercial districts in the Triangle. In the last few years, alone, Garner's White Oak shopping center has exploded with new businesses from Cabela's to Carolina Ale House. More recently, STOCK America — producer of sterilization equipment for the food and pharmaceutical industries — opened a 17,000-square- foot headquarters in Garner that will bring $2.2 million and 15 jobs to the town. The nearby state capital and Research Triangle Park (RTP) provide many of the city's jobs. The State of North Carolina, Wake County Public School System and IBM — one of the oldest businesses in RTP — are three of Wake County's largest employers. In Garner, specifically, Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Pergo Flooring, Cabela's outdoor store and Golden State Foods provide more than 1,500 jobs locally. Forbes has placed Raleigh and its surrounding cities at the top of its list of "Best Places for Businesses and Careers." This, in part, is due to the abundance of higher education institutions across the region including three Garner BY ALYSSA LAFARO research universities: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Duke University. More than 47 percent of residents aged 25 and older hold a bachelor's degree or higher. This small but "Great Place to Live" is also a hub of entertainment. The recently renovated Garner Performing Arts Center regularly hosts the Towne Players of Garner — named "Best Community Theater in the Triangle" — as well as world-renowned Broadway singers and shows, concerts and other local performers. The center's back lawn transforms into an outdoor movie theatre on Thursdays during the summer, with one or two food trucks on-site to satiate the salivary glands of movie patrons. In September, residents return to this grassy knoll for Carnaval Latino, celebrating traditional and contemporary Latin cultures with mouthwatering eats, piñata giveaways, live Latin music and more. The city's Parks, Recreation and Resources Department also organizes a series of outdoor events throughout the year. Spring kicks off on Groundhog Day with a prognostication from a lively groundhog named Mortimer, followed by the Spring Eggstravaganza egg hunt at Lake Benson in April, a fireworks-filled Independence Day celebration in July and the annual tree-lighting ceremony, called Light Up Main, in December. For the rest of the year, residents enjoy the department's 350 acres of parkland packed with paved trails, 12 playgrounds and picnic shelters, 14 athletic fields, six tennis courts and the Lake Benson boathouse. Growing by nearly 10,000 residents since 2000, it seems Garner will only continue to develop and thrive, just as the GRA's vision for the city suggests: "Rooted in the past, growing into the future." [] revitalized, livability, food truck rodeo

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