Community Spotlight – Connie Kincaid

The heart of any city is found in its downtown neighborhood.  The quaint storefronts, boutiques, offices, and restaurants collectively create a city’s identity and spirit.  A thriving downtown radiates to the entire city and is an important component of a city’s economic health.  Downtown Hickory has experienced growth over the past few years and continues to develop further.  Helping to spur revitalization is the Hickory Downtown Development Association (HDDA) and their Executive Director, Connie Kincaid.

Kincaid, one of only four certified Main Street Managers in North Carolina, has overseen HDDA for ten years. She is a one-person office, handling all aspects of managing the private nonprofit with guidance from its 12 member volunteer Board of Directors.  She is Connie Kincaidalso responsible for administering the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Main Street program for the City of Hickory.

It is fair to describe Kincaid as a pro on all things Main Street, as she has worked with the program for 30 years.  She is clearly passionate about the program and advocates for Main Street’s Four Point Approach to Revitalization: organization, design, promotions, and economic vitality. HDDA is actually set up to reflect that model, with a committee structure working on specific goals for each point.  “The whole purpose of the program is economic development with the context of historic preservation,” explained Kincaid. “Main Street is economic development.”

Funding for HDDA is comprised of membership dues, grants, donations, and event revenues.  Each aspect is necessary for the survival of HDDA, but events play an important role because they not only help fundraise for the association, but they also add cultural activity to the community at large.  HDDA is responsible for Oktoberfest, Hickory Hops, two annual Art Crawls, the Candy Crawl, the Shuck & Peel Party, Shop Small Saturday, and A Hickory Holiday.  Each event brings residents and visitors alike into Downtown to shop, dine, and enjoy a well-crafted life style.

Oktoberfest is a three-day, outdoor festival on the second weekend of October and is still going strong in its 31st year.  Kincaid noted “Oktoberfest is Hickory’s signature festival because Hickory began as a German settlement and Oktoberfest celebrates our heritage.”

Kincaid’s sense of humor showed when she described her role as the “plate spinning act on the Ed Sullivan Show.” She certainly wears many hats but she attributes her success to the “wonderful volunteers who step up to the plate when things need to be done for activities and events that benefit their neighbors.”  Kincaid’s and HDDA’s reliance on volunteers enhances the feeling of ownership and pride in Downtown.  It really takes the community working together to make Hickory a great city.

HDDA also relies on feedback from the community.  They hold a Community Vision Forum every five years where people come together to create a shared vision of Downtown’s future.  From the collective feedback, HDDA builds an annual work program with specific goals to “promote our authentic character with distinct vision by engaging our residents,” explained Kincaid.  The next forum will be held in April of 2017.

Kincaid works tirelessly for Downtown and the Hickory community.  Her role as Executive Director of HDDA is more than just a job.  She finds satisfaction in bettering the community and helping Hickory grow stronger.  When asked what is most fulfilling about her job, she replied, “Knowing that a place is better because you’ve been there.”

1 Comment
  1. Thank you for highlighting Connie Kincaid! She is a true asset to our community and the Hickory Downtown Development Association is fortunate to have her talents!