Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Minute Ideas to Ring in the New Year

Procrastinators, take heed!  It's almost New Years Eve, and it's possible that some of you haven't given much thought to where to close the 2010 chapter and greet 2011.  Worry not...DCVB's got you covered.

In case you missed looking at the Weekly Durham Community Event Calendar earlier this week, click here and check out a dozen or so places you could go.   Among Durham's great attributes is its open and inclusive nature...don't want to exclude anyone that wants to join the party.  So, unlike other lists in circulation, this is more broad spectrum.  Additionally, the official Durham fan page on Facebook has a posting that fans can ad to about places with last minute availability.

So, Eat, Drink and be Merry!  Wash away 2010 - whether it was good or bad - and welcome's almost the first day of a whole new decade.  Be safe and enjoy.

Happy New Year from DCVB

As 2010 comes to a close, DCVB would like to thank all of the people who continue to make Durham a place where great things happen. We’re thankful we live in a community that embraces its diversity, thinks differently and creatively, and has unlimited passion for the things it values. And yet, despite its worldliness, it’s still neighborly and caring; warm and welcoming.

The entire DCVB team wishes you and yours an enriching and prosperous year in 2011.

Bull City Connector Expands Morning Service

In an effort to improve convenience, Durham’s fare free bus, called the Bull City Connector (BCC), has expanded its morning service to help commuters get to work by 7 a.m. The BCC connects Durham’s east side at Golden Belt to Duke University Hospital on the west side with a special leg that ties in North Carolina Central University to the south. The Bull City Connector is a fare-free service.

On January 3, the BCC will start westbound trips one hour earlier, with the first departure from Golden Belt at 6:22 a.m., from Durham Station at 6:31 a.m., and arriving at the Duke University Hospital stop at 6:45 a.m. Eastbound trips will begin 15 minutes earlier from Duke University Hospital at 6:45 a.m.
Started in August 2010, the BCC has transported over 100,000 passengers to Duke University, Downtown Durham, Ninth Street, and Golden Belt on its 40+ stop route. Several stops have been added since the service began to improve overall convenience. Schedule information and bus stop locations can be found on the BCC web site, designed and maintained by DCVB.

The Bull City Connector is managed by the City's Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) with major support from Duke University. DATA is operated by the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA). The service reduces overall traffic congestion downtown and improves access for visitors and residents alike.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tourism Factor In #11 Best Place For Business

See DCVB's President Emeritus Reyn Bowman's blog below for a rather focused look behind a ranking and learn a bit more about why Durham is now being included on some lists it had never graced previously.  It is also important to note that rankings such as these are using the word "city" to refer to Metropolitan Statisical Areas which is an improper reference.  Follow the link to see the US Census' definition to learn more.

Tourism Factor In #11 Best Place For Business
Bull City Mutterings
Reyn Bowman

Because it crossed the 500,000 mark in population, the Durham NC MSA is included for the first time in the MarketWatch “best of” measures.

Also new this year in the “best places for business” methodology are new and improved metrics for tourism just released this month and signaling the growing influence of visitor centric economic and cultural development for communities.

Continue reading this blog post...

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Translation App Not Just for TechnoGeeks

The Durham News Service is run by the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, a destination marketing organization.  DCVB gets excited about new technology that makes travel easier and more accessible.  This new application for the iPhone is just such a development. 

The app translates text (right now only between English and Spanish or Spanish and English) in real time using the camera - it doesn't even require a network connection (translate - if you are traveling outside the U.S., you do not need to worry about costly International roaming fees). 

The full version will set users back a mere $4.99.  A free version has a nifty text reversal feature that is novel, if nothing else.  Watch the introductory video.  It's called Word Lens and it's likely to be a big hit with those looking to break down language barriers.  It may even be a useful tool in the workplace for employees whose native language is Spanish requiring the need to constantly translate words into English. 

A Typical Case of “Community” Identity Theft

On a normal day marketing is merely a multi-faceted and highly complex process.  Other days, however, it's an all-out scramble to keep alot of balls in the air. 

What follows is a post about a major aspect of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau's work.  It's typically referred to as "defending the brand."  Sometimes it seems the effort is akin to whispering in a hurricane or asking a mouse to pull a freight train.  But delivered consistently, week after week, year after year, the efforts do pay off.  Here is a blog post written by DCVB's President Emeritus, considered an expert in community image and brand.

A Typical Case of "Community" Identity TheftBull City Mutterings
Reyn Bowman

If you ever wonder why “36 Hours” in the NYTs tried to cover Durham as part of two huge metro areas lumped together (an impossibility by the way) but gave tiny Sun Valley in the center of my homestate of Idaho an issue all its own, look no further than this announcement related to the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, R.I.P.

It is information like this, distributed either directly by Raleigh-based WRAL to publications like USA Today and others or relayed via the Raleigh-based office of Associated Press for North Carolina that pollutes and distorts, some say deliberately, Durham’s identity.

Continue reading this blog post...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Google Bits - An update

It's not much, but at least now there's an update from the folks in Mountain View.  Here's the copy of their message to the organizations that completed applications:

Hello from Google,

Earlier this year your community expressed interest in our experimental ultra high-speed broadband network, and I wanted to send you a quick update on where that project stands.

First, I’m excited to announce that this week I joined Google as Vice President of Access Services, where I’ll be overseeing the Google Fiber team. So far I’ve been getting up to speed on the progress our team has made over the past several months – from experimenting with new fiber deployment technologies here on Google’s campus, to announcing a “beta” network to 850 homes at Stanford – and I’m excited for us to take the next step of bringing our ultra high-speed network to a community.

Second, this morning we plan to announce that Google will be delaying the announcement of our selected community or communities. We had planned to announce by the end of this year, but the level of interest was incredible – nearly 1,100 communities across the country responded to our announcement – and exceeded our expectations.

We’re sorry for this delay, but we want to make sure we get this right. To be clear, we’re not re-opening our selection process, but simply need more time to decide than we had anticipated. Stay tuned for an announcement in early 2011.

Thank you again for your enthusiasm and interest in our project.

Milo Medin
Vice President, Access Services

So, fingers crossed...still. 

Durham Featured on the Cover of 2011 NC State Travel Guide

Durham got a pat on the back from the State Division of Tourism today…in fact, it got 600,000 of them as Durham will be featured on the cover of the 2011 Travel Guide. That means when a prospective visitor requests information about North Carolina, the very first thing they will see is Durham. The image was taken in Brightleaf Square, an eclectic and diverse collection of shops and restaurants in Durham. Brightleaf Square is one of Durham’s many unique visitor features.

“To say that we are thrilled is an understatement,” said Shelly Green, President and CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is a very big deal for Durham. It’s an awesome responsibility to be the “face” of NC as a visitor destination, but we think we’re up to the challenge,” she added.

Being selected for the cover of The Official 2011 Travel Guide is quite an honor. The state spends approximately $10.5 million annually - $3.5 million in advertising placements alone - to drive visitation to North Carolina. When coupled with the marketing and promotion done by local destination marketing organizations such as DCVB, the results are very positive.

In Durham alone last year, there were 6.3 million visitors who spent $627 million. That resulted in more than $37 million in local tax revenue. Visitor spending fuels more than 10,600 jobs in Durham, and without the taxes it generates, each household in Durham would pay an additional $700 a year in taxes to maintain the current level of government services. Despite a sluggish economy, visitation to Durham grew by more than 250,000 people last year.

Being on the cover of the State’s guide will provide a significant increase in exposure to Durham as a destination. Here are some facts about the guide:
  • 600,000 printed copies are produced
  • They are available free-of-charge at all nine state Welcome Centers, by calling 1-800-VISIT-NC or online at
  • The guides feature 800 attractions, 4,000 accommodations and travel resources in all 100 counties
  • The online version of the guide is the most technologically advanced of any state travel guide. Electronic extras include video tours, barcode scans, and interactive maps 
Durham, North Carolina is an open and welcoming community of creative and entrepreneurial people. It is consistently ranked among the greatest places to live, work and visit.

Official Durham Publications and Information

Friday, December 10, 2010

DCVB Releases 2010 Annual Report

The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau is Durham's marketing agency; the community's way to attract and serve visitors.  It's primary role is to tell the Durham story and get the community on the list for consideration as a place for conventions, meetings, getaways, and all kinds of visitation. 

Each year, the organization distributes an annual report; a brief recap of DCVB's role to spearhead the economic and cultural development of Durham through visitor marketing and promotion.

"This year's report indicates a bright light peaking through the end of the recession tunnel," said Shelly Green, DCVB President & CEO.  "We're proud to report report that visitation to Durham in 2009 was at an all-time high with 6.31 million visitors, even though spending was down." 

The report will help readers understand more about visitor-related impacts on Durham and why Durham is "Where Great Things Happen."


Frank DePasquale, 85, Iconic Durham Architect

The passing of Frank DePasquale leaves a void for his friends and family; he was a loved man and respected architect for decades.  Fortunately, though, for them and those in Durham, the blow of his passing is softened by the enormity of his contributions to this place.  "He was a leading architect in Durham, having designed and adaptively reusing some of Durham's most notable structures, from the Hayti Heritage Center to the Durham Arts Council, winning awards for both of these projects. He was also instrumental in working with City official to create the Historic District Commission in Durham City government," said Shelly Green, President and CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Celebrated at Durham's Annual Tribute Luncheon this year, Depasquale was featured in a video wherein he described his work and career in his own words. The Annual Tribute Luncheon is an occassion to celebrate a part of Durham's unique sense of place.  "The preservation of architecture is an important expression of the history of our forefathers and the way that they lived. It is a teaching tool and stepping stone of knowledge into the future for those not living today, but for future generations to use to improve the quality of life for all," DePasquale said.

In his career, DePasquale designed many of the buildings that are distinctly Durham.  In addition to The Hayti Heritage Center and The Durham Arts Council, he designed many churches, schools and dozens of homes.  He served as President of Durham Central Park and championed the development of a downtown park from several blocks filled with weeds and derelict buildings. He later designed The George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts, an elegant bronze casting facility in Durham Central Park, a project that earned his another Golden Leaf Award in 2006. A slogan he used often was “Downtown Durham isn’t dying…it’s only changing.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Smarty Pants

Durham is sitting pretty as the fourth smartest "city" in the United States in a ranking by released this morning.  It's a nice feather in Durham's cap, for sure, and those who live and work here should well be proud. 

Basically, it says that Durham is full of smart people. 

The ranking is fully described in the attached article, and it should be noted that the study from which it was generated, like so many others, is not just of a single city.  The study looked at Metropolitan Statistical Areas, so Durham's ranking included data from the four counties that make up the Durham, NC MSA - Chatham, Durham, Orange and Person.

The study uses educational achievement (and the resulting earning power) to determine rankings.  Take a look at a slide show of the winners here.

Durham is regularly lauded as a great place to live, was recently ranked by Money Magazine as the number one place in the US to retire, and is home to a dizzying array of cultural, medical, educational and business assets that make it the place where great things happen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lots of Good News to Drink In

Just a quick bit today as everyone tries to dig out of the in-box-voicemail-IM-turkey-coma burden that this day always represents...and that quick bit is really two bits of really good news.

First is that, and those who live here know this empirically, Durham's water is tasty! It ranks third statewide in the North Carolina American Water Works Association and Water Environment Association's annual competition. It won top honors in 1999 and 2006.

Second, it looks like Durham will soon be ranked as the state's fourth largest city, ousting Winston-Salem from their current position and trailing behind Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte respectively. Census numbers cite the population at 237,214 putting Durham at 84th place on the national list.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Overdue Update

There are many stories unfolding in Durham every day from which readers can draw inspiration, perspective, courage and knowledge.  This post is from a blog written by a family dealing with cancer - and it's powerful...and it's perfect in light of tomorrow's festivities.

Happy Thanksgiving, really.

An Overdue Update
This Machine Kills Cancer
Shayne Miel

It’s been three weeks since I got home from the hospital, which means I am a lazy blogger. The first week and a half, everything I did felt like climbing a mountain. I found myself having to rest in between each action. Between putting on my underwear and putting on my pants, I’d have to sit in a chair and chant “you can do this” over and over to myself. I was still throwing up a lot and I slept 16 hours a day. But I wasn’t in the hospital. That’s important.

I slowly started dragging my ass out of the house - to the coffeeshop, to my in-laws house, to the top of a parking deck where my friend Heather was shooting a music video for her band Mt. Moriah (look for me and Rebekah when it comes out - I ride by on a skateboard and Rebekah dances around in a fantastic tutu). I realized that, no matter how bad it felt, I had to start getting off the couch and living life again. If I waited to feel better, I wouldn’t know when to begin. So I didn’t wait. I went out and saw the world. Besides, I felt like crap all year and lived through it, what was a few more weeks?

Continue reading this blog post...

Timing is Everything

It takes lots of small interconnecting parts to make up the place where great things happen. Little interactions like this one. Read on.

timing is everything
Sarah Ovenall

Last week Georg and I went to A/V Geeks. We had to meet there because he was working late, so I went to the Q Shack for dinner. They were a little crowded and I asked a young woman if I could share her table. She was studying, and though I didn't pry, I could see enough of her book to see that she was studying Chinese.

I wanted to say something to her but after 20 years, I remember so little Chinese that I didn't know what I would say. I can barely say my own name at this point, much less have a conversation. Besides, she seemed pretty deeply involved in her studies and I didn't want to interrupt. So I ate my dinner and websurfed on my phone, and she studied, and it was a nice quiet sharing of space.

Continue reading this blog post...

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Local Perspective on Burgers

One of the purposes of the Durham News Service is to help tell Durham’s Story. In fact, this site is ground-breaking in the destination marketing business for real-time news service delivery. Part of great story telling is taking from the organic truth of the place you are promoting. Fortunately, in Durham there are hundreds of outstanding bloggers telling their truths about this place. Their stories will appear here, too, and with increasing frequency.

The piece that follows is a great exploration of burgers from one person’s point of view. Food is one of Durham’s most distinctive features, strongly held opinions about that subject and honesty are others. This posting embodies all three.

My Choice For Best New Durham Burger!
Bull City Mutterings
Reyn Bowman

I love hamburgers, always have, so people have been asking me to rate two new Durham locations (as a benchmark, I included a highly regarded Raleigh outlet with a Durham location.)

Over the course of several weeks, I’ve tried the doubles at King’s Sandwich Shop in the Downtown Foster-Geer District, Only Burger (both the famed food truck and the newly opened stand in Hope Valley) and to be fair to nearby Raleigh, its famed Char-Grill and to be ultra fair, both at its Durham location and at the original location.
Continue reading this blog post...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Results from the Resident Favorite Dining Survey

Attention.  Attention Please.  Please direct your attention this way.  The results of the 2010 Resident Favorite Dining Survey are tabulated and the winners are....  But before the winners are announced, there are a few tidbits worth sharing; c'mon, there's got to be a little suspense, no? 

The survey is a popular vote contest for people who live and work in Durham.  There were no limits on what places could win.  Voting was conducted online through a survey on the Informz platform and was open for 12 days from November 1 through 12.  The survey was promoted largely over social media.

Participation was up 61% over last year.  That size jump clearly indicates a strong desire by those who live here to be supportive of their local businesses and to direct visitors to them.  That's a great thing.

Folks spent an average of 5:19 per response.  That is up 18% from last year and it indicates that respondents truly care about making sure they choose the places that they believe most exemplify excellence in a category. 

Some categories were too close to call a single winner; only one or two votes separated some of the top contenders.  In those instances, multiple winners were awarded.  "The objective of this survey is to provide a window on the local culinary zeigeist that others can use to guide their decisions, and this year we had a heck of a response," said Sam Poley, DCVB's Director of Marketing and Communications.  "We were especially excited to see voting be so close, and to have multiple establishments genuinely be easily discernable as true 'favorites' by popular votes," he added.

So, without further adoo, the 2010 Resident Favorites Dining Survey winners are:

Favorite Place in Durham for BBQ:
The Original Q-Shack

Favorite Place in Durham for Brunch:
Watts Grocery and Elmo's Diner

Favorite Place in Durham for a Burger:
Only Burger

Favorite Coffee House in Durham:
Bean Traders, Inc., Beyu Caffe, and Joe Van Gogh

Favorite Place for a Guilty Pleasure:
Francesca's Dessert Caffe, Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Cafe, Guglhupf Café, and Scratch Seasonal Artisan Baking

Favorite Place in Durham with a Kids' Menu:
Elmo's Diner

Favorite Restaurant with Live Entertainment:
Broad Street Café

Favorite Mobile Food Vendor in Durham:
Only Burger

Favorite Place in Durham for Late Night Food:
Cosmic Cantina

Favorite Place in Durham for Vegetarians:
Toast, Sitar India Palace, Dos Perros, and Saladelia Cafe

Favorite Restaurant in Durham for a Date:
Revolution and Watts Grocery

Favorite Restaurant Value in Durham:
Chubby's Tacos and The Federal

Favorite Restaurant Wine List in Durham:
Six Plates Wine Bar

Friday, November 12, 2010

DurhamCares Give Gift of (Google) Voice

Local non-profit DurhamCares is teaming up with Google Voice to help homeless people in Durham begin to navigate the path to independence. Together, they are providing 500 Google Voice cards to six local charities because one of the hurdles on the journey to standing on their own two feet is, simply, the ability to communicate beyond direct, in-person contact. The Google Voice cards are a gateway to finding success in many aspects and DurhamCares is thrilled to work with Google Voice in helping the homeless.

“The Google Voice cards will provide homeless individuals with a personal phone number, which will help them search for jobs, maintain family connections and take care of other personal matters, such as securing living arrangements,” said Henry Kaestner, cofounder of DurhamCares. “Our mission at DurhamCares is to find creative, groundbreaking ways to inspire and support the Durham community, and we’re excited to work with Google Voice, a leader in innovation, to do just that.”

The six local charities receiving the Google Voice cards are: Genesis Home, TROSA, Housing for New Hope, Durham Rescue Mission, Dress for Success, and Sales and Service Training Center. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 16 at 4pm in the John O’Daniel Exchange in the Multipurpose Room (801 Gilbert St., Durham). The public is welcome to attend.

Like the community itself, DurhamCares is a creative, innovative and compassionate organization, and it exists to help citizens of Durham help one another.

Durham Art Walk Holiday Market Kicks Off November 20

Shopping in Durham is phenomenal with funky and eclectic shopping districts, a family-owned regional mall whose unique shops and full-size nostalgic carousel have made it a Durham landmark and one of the nation’s most exciting super regional malls. To work up enough stamina to make it through Black Friday check out the annual Durham Art Walk Holiday Market this weekend. The timing and scope of the DAW Holiday Market makes it a great opportunity to get started on those holiday purchases a little early.

Durham’s art scenefeaturing events such as: Bimbe Cultural Arts Festival, Duke Homestead Herb, Garden, and Craft Festival, Durham Art Guild’s Annual Juried Art Show and CenterFest, to name a fewoffers opportunities throughout the year to find the perfect gift for a loved one, or a new item for a personal collection.

This year’s DAW Holiday Market features a new name and other exciting changes from years past. Taking place on Saturday, November 20 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, November 21 from 1pm-5pm, the market is sure to have something for everyone!

Here is a look at a few of the new and fun things happening at the market.
  • Bull City Connector connects most of the main sites and makes parking easy
  • Scrap Exchange is providing upcycled gift wrapping at DAC and the Armory
  • Cartoonist and caricaturist VC Rogers will be doing free sketches at the Armory
  • Burt’s Bees is sponsoring the creation of Giving Trees, fabulous holiday trees made of repurposed materials on display at the DAC
  • There will be roving performance art by Jim Kellough
  • There is live music both days at DAC and the Armory
  • There are new mobile food vendors including Kettle Corn and a food truck called Blue Sky dining that does Cuban sandwiches, beef brisket & Maryland crabcakes
  • Cinelli’s Italian restaurant will be serving pastas and salads out of the Armory kitchen
  • The DAC will have artists on all 3 floors of the building for the first time ever
  • PLUS a new local artist vendor called NylaElise will be producing a limited number of supercool hand-screened DAW Holiday Market tees 
Those attending this exciting event in the heart of Downtown Durham will see for themselves why this is the place where great things happen.

“Energy Efficient Lighting: Beyond Compact Florescent Bulbs” Free Webinar

Durham currently has 23 businesses certified or working toward Green Plus certification. These include The King's Daughters Inn, which was honored as the Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year, along with  the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, which was the first destination marketing organization in the nation to be certified.

On Wednesday, December 8, from 10:30am-11:30am the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University will host the fifth free webinar in their Renewable Energy in Tourism series. This webinar, “Energy Efficient Lighting: Beyond Compact Florescent Bulbs,” will address energy efficient lighting specifically for small to mid-sized tourism attractions and accommodations.

The webinar will provide applicable and relevant information to help owners and operators become more lighting savvy, save money on their utility bills, and better brand themselves to the growing number of green conscious travelers.

Participants interested in this event can register online.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DCVB Earns Four MarCom Awards in 2010 Competition

What do Lockheed Martin, MetLife, SAS Institute, and DCVB all have in common? They are all platinum winners (highest category) in the 2010 MarCom Awards, an International competition for marketing and communication professionals.

This year, Durham’s official marketing agency earned four awards for creativity: one Platinum, one Gold, and two Honorable Mention out of 5,000 submissions from the US and several foreign countries by businesses and organizations of every size and type. MarCom is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing & Communications Professionals (AMCP). DCVB has earned recognitions in this competition for four years.

DCVB’s Official Durham Visitor Overview & Map received Platinum recognition, while DCVB’s partnership with the City of Durham on promotional materials for the Bull City Connector received Gold. Honorable Mentions were given for the Downtown Durham Guide and Walking Tour publication, produced in partnership with DDI, as well as Shelly Green’s introduction letter to the community as the new CEO of DCVB.

To date, DCVB has earned more than 150 awards and recognitions for best practices, innovations, and creative promotions from a variety of independent sources.

There were only three other destination marketing organizations in the U.S. receiving Platinum Awards, including Anaheim CA, Shreveport LA, and Henderson NV.

Holiday Dining in Durham

Each year, DCVB does a poll of Durham restaurants to find out which ones are open on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day.  Please note that many require reservations and/or have special hours on these dates.  Phone numbers are included on the attached list. Support these local restaurants.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Preserving Durham's Unique Sense of Place

Once again an iconic building in Durham will remain intact thanks to some good old fashioned common sense.  Take a look at this post by Gary Kueber on Endangered Durham for more:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Resident Favorites Survey Begins Today

Each year the folks at the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau like to gather a little ground-level research from residents to find out what they do and don't dig on the local dining scene.  Turns out that visitors are increasingly interested in the local chatter, too, as it relates to empirically-informed personal preferences upon which they can act when they visit. 

DCVB's annual Resident Favorites Survey is in
the field with voting going through 11/12/10.
Social media has emerged as a platform that drives the interest in this sort of information, and the need is growing.  Since Durhamites get so excited about things in the place where great things happen, this survey is a great way to formalize that data.  So, those with an opinion (research shows that opinions are strongly-held in Durham) should follow this link to complete the survey. 

That's right, TAKE THE SURVEY here.

"This short survey is dining focused - it will take most people less than 90 seconds to complete," according to Sam Poley, DCVB's Director of Marketing and Communications who hopes that residents will voice their opinions by the thousands.  "This survey is always fun for us.  We really get a kick out of seeing the responses and hope nominated restaurants will really promote this process and encourage votes through their social media as well," he added.

Winning establishments are presented with a framed award and are announced publicly by DCVB.  The questions change annually, so it is possible that a place may have consecutive wins in a category that are years apart.  Last year's winners are posted here.

City of Durham Honored with Sustainability Award

The City of Durham was named one of two inaugural winners of the Susan M. Burgess Sustainability Award by The N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM). The Burgess Sustainability award is presented annually to recognize efforts to lessen the environmental impact of municipal operations and to promote and encourage sustainability throughout the community. Durham won for municipalities with a population of 10,000 and above. The City of Archdale won in the category of those municipalities under 10,000.

Durham was honored for its numerous sustainability efforts, including its greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan; its public-private partnership to produce electricity from landfill methane gas; its recycling, water conservation and education programs; and city-funded affordable housing built to energy efficiency standards.

“Durham is truly a leader in sustainability efforts among our cities,” said Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, NCLM 2009-10 Second Vice President, in presenting the award.

“I was very honored to accept this award on behalf of Durham,” Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell said. “Over the past few years, the City has made a deliberate effort to promote sustainability in everything we do, not just for current Durham residents, but also for our future. We are proud that our efforts are being recognized by this prestigious and forward-thinking award.”

The Susan M. Burgess Sustainability Awards are named in honor of the late Burgess, a Charlotte council member and former NCLM president who created the NCLM Green Challenge several years ago as a way to honor those municipalities that have taken the initiative to conserve energy and natural resources at the local government level. Burgess died in 2010 after a battle with cancer.

Burgess Sustainability Award winners must first achieve NCLM Green Challenge Advanced Level status before they can apply for the Burgess Award. More than 90 cities and towns participate in the NCLM Green Challenge.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Watch the Blue Devils, Benefit the Emily K Center

On Wednesday, November 10, basketball fans have a rare opportunity to get a glimpse inside the Duke Men’s national championship program as a part of a special evening to benefit the Emily K Center.

Guests at Inside Duke Basketball will observe team practice in Cameron Indoor Stadium in the company of former players Jay Bilas (now ESPN analyst) and Chris Carrawell; tour the new Duke Basketball Museum and Athletics Hall of Fame; dine in Scharf Hall along with Coach Mike Krzyzewski; and participate in a question and answer session with the basketball experts.

Tickets are available for a donation of $250 per ticket at the Emily K Center by calling (919) 680-0308, ext.1006 or buying online here.

Durham’s Creative Vitality Index

Learn about Durham’s Top Ranked Creative Economy on Thursday, November 4. Presented by the Durham Business Committee for the Arts and the Alpha Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the event includes a breakfast with Linda Carlisle, NC Secretary of Cultural Resources, workshops, and a luncheon with Dr. Margaret Stover Mertz, Executive Director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.

The breakfast will include a presentation of results of the Creative Vitality Index study from 8:00-9:45. Tickets for this event only are $15. Following the breakfast, there are several Art of Business Workshops. For $35 attendees can participate in all events.

For more information, to get event tickets, and to see a list of speakers, click here.

Free Admission for Durham County Residents

On Sunday, November 7, the Museum of Life and Science is hosting “Durham Appreciation Day” from noon to 5pm.  For free admission, each adult must show a photo ID that shows a Durham County residency. Everyone wanting to experience the tropics of the Magic Wings Butterfly House, go back in time on the Dinosaur Trail, or see other new exhibits, is encouraged to visit the museum. Donations are appreciated.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Durham's Image Continues to Rise

For 17 years, DCVB has commissioned studies to look at Durham's image and a variety of other important community issues.  This is the first of several stories that will talk about what residents of Durham, Orange and Wake County think about Durham, Orange and Wake counties.  A full State of Durham's Image with the full report will be published in December.

In 1993, when DCVB hired researchers to do a public opinion poll about image, Durham's image was very strong - but only in Durham.  Neighbors to the east and west had a very different perception of the Bull City.  At that time in Wake County, for every one person with a positive image of Durham, there were 5 people who had a negative image.  Orange was only slightly better with a 4 to 1 negative to positive ratio.

Fast forward to 2010.  Durham's image is still high with its own residents (it always has been) but Wake and Orange residents have a decidedly different view of Durham.  In Orange County 86% of the people have a positive image of Durham and in Wake County, 74% have a positive image of Durham.  These are dramatic improvements.

This study was performed by a firm in Wake County on DCVBs behalf.  Its based on a randomly selected sample of 400 individuals 18 and above for each county.  The results are generalizable to the full population with a margin of error of +/- 5%.

Durham Gets MORE Entrepreneurial

Durham has always been a hotbed of entrepreneurialism - even the Great American Indian Trading Path ran through this place; a route that was an early manifestation of entrepreneurial activity.  In other words, Durham's brand can claim the spirit of entrepreneurialism at the genetic level.

Duke University announced a major move forward for those
interested in starting businesses in Durham.

Today, Duke University announced a major leap forward that builds upon Durham's previous successes in this area.  Duke alumna Kimberly Jenkins will assist Duke in its efforts to promote both entrepreneurship and innovation at Duke.  Click here for a story that more clearly addresses start ups in Durham.

"Durham continues to rise as a hub for start ups in a way that few communities can compete with regionally or nationally," said Shelly Green, the President and CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.  This sentiment echoes repeated national rankings and recognition of Durham's promienence as a dynamic place to live, work, play and retire.  "This news is great for Duke and great for Durham," Ms. Green noted. 
Click here for more information about Duke's new initiative.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bulls In the Running

The hometown favorite Durham Bulls baseball club is in the running for most popular Triple A team in the league for the 2010 MiLBY Awards.  They finished the season at 88-55, topping all other team performances.  The vote is tabulated by raw volume and is largely a popularity contest.  There is no reason why the Bulls shouldn't top the list.

"The Durham Bulls are beloved by their fans," said Shelly Green, President and CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Durhamites, in particular, are fiercely proud of their team and will likely get out the vote to show their pride," she added.

Voting in the contest continues through Monday, November 1st.  Vote here.

Local Business Leader on South Park?

Turns out that the folks at the TV cartoon series South Park have an affinity for the Nationwide Insurance ad campaign created by Durham powerhouse ad agency McKinney.  In the most recent episode of the show, the agency head, Brad Brinegar, and the Nationwide campaign are spoofed...or so it seems.  Hit the links and be the judge.

Friday, October 22, 2010

2011 Annual Tribute Luncheon Theme Set

Each year DCVB produces Durham’s Annual Tribute Luncheon, honoring individuals and groups who have helped shape and preserve Durham’s unique sense of place.  This year it celebrates three Durham institutions and some of the individuals associated with them who have worked tirelessly and artfully to achieve greatness.  Their organizations have become synonymous with Durham and they have made even richer the tapestry that comprises the fabric of Durham.

For 2011, the theme is "Great Rhythm.  Great Blues." and will showcase three of Durham's most enduring organizations: the African American Dance Ensemble, the American Dance Festival and the Bull Durham Blues Festival.

The African American Dance Ensemble expresses the rhythm of life and is more than a dance troupe.  The ensemble is an agency of positive social change and reinforcement of the human values of peace, love and respect, as well as a world-renowned arts education organization.

The American Dance Festival has its hands on the pulse of modern American Dance.  Relocating to Durham in 1978 from Connecticutt, the festival floods Duke's campus each summer with about 500 dancers, choreographers, musicians, critics and scholars from around the globe.

Durham loves to sing the blues, but not the kind that speaks of bad luck, hard times and lost love.  Showcasing an art form that is reflective of Durham’s rich musical heritage, the Piedmont or Carolina Blues style is upbeat, and just as likely to make listeners jump up and dance as shake their heads in reflection.  For more than two decades, the Bull Durham Blues Festival has been held in Durham as a showcase of some of the finest contemporary blues artists today. 

This event is produced annually and in the past has recognized the culinary arts, architecture, authors and civic organizations.

Held at Bay 7 at American Tobacco on April 27, 2011, the event is always a "who's who" of Durham and of the respective community being celebrated.  Sponsorship opportunities are available and more information is available by

Serve Food? Get a Permit

Durham has one of the most vibrant food cultures that anyone could hope to find - from fine dining restaurants to mobile food vendors, there is great variety and quality of food available here along with a population that exudes enthusiam for its culinary traditions.  Including churches and non-profits that apply for permits in order to prepare and serve food, there are more than 550 permitted food service operators in Durham.

However, business climates that are this successful also draw operators who don't alway play by the rules. The Durham County Health Department now has some bite to its bark when it finds those operating outside the they can, and will, be working with the Durham Police Department to ticket illegal food vendors, requiring a court appearance with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Despite the fact that there are more than two dozen permitted mobile operators in Durham, there are some who try to fill the demand without going through proper channels; some intending to skirt the law and others simply uninformed.  For example, many non-profit groups raising funds for various causes aren't always aware they need a permit to sell food.  This is major concern as proper food handling practices are critical to maintaining the public's health.

"Durham is a place that thrives on exciting food and authentic preparation," says Shelly Green, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.  "Mobile food service has fewer barriers to entry, therefore lets more people through the door.  That's a plus and a minus, and this initiative by the Durham County Health Department looks like it has the right ingredients to make the scene in Durham approachable and enticing for everyone," she added.
Billing this initiative as education as much as enforcement, the DCHD is using this as an occassion to let citizens know how to report violators and also to inform those operating without permits how to obtain them and serve a safe product.  The number to call is 919-560-7800.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Brightleaf Square is again open for business. 

Restaurants Without Gas

A result of the gas leak is that some restaurants are without gas for their equipment.  One restaurateur siad that they are without gas and that they were told "30-40 minutes," but there was a heavy measuure of uncertainty in the estimate.

Upon calling, most of the properties in the Brightleaf District were not answering their phones.  Below is a list of what the Durham News Service has been able to learn so far.  The list will be updated as more information is collected:

Devine's is closed for lunch and will be open for dinner.
Domino's is open for both lunch and dinner.
Fishmonger's has a limited menu and will serve the full menu as soon as they have gas service.
Parker and Otis is open with their full menu.
Pop's is open for both lunch and dinner today.
Rainbow Chinese is closed for lunch and unsure about dinner service.
Torerro's is open for both lunch and dinner today.
604 West Morgan Italian Eatery featuring Cinelli's is open for both lunch and dinner today.


The ruptured gas line in Durham has been capped and is no longer leaking and therfore minimizing potential danger.  Crews will remain on the scene to repair and monitor the broken line.


According to news reports, parents are being directed to West Peabody Street and South Gregson to pick up children evacuated from Durham School of the Arts and a daycare center in the area. 

It is believed that a work crew ruptured the gas line and PSNC has been dispactched to the area along with a Durham Hazardous Materials (HazMat) team. 

No reliable estimates are available as to when the situation will be rectified.  Please check back for additional updates.


According to reports, Durham School of the Arts has also been evacuated at this point.

BREAKING NEWS: Gas Leak in Durham on Main Street

A gas leak in Durham has shut intersections of Main Street at Buchanan Blvd, Gregson and Morgan Streets.  Brightleaf Square has been evacuated.  A gas line was severed accidentally according to police.  More details will be posted here as they become available.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Farmhand Foods - Another Chef-Driven Food Truck in Durham

Durham is widely lauded as having an incredible food scene and as the state's hot bed of mobile food service operators.  Durham's most famous truck, OnlyBurger, has a bigger following then even LA's famous Kogi BBQ when viewed as a per follower/truck calculation with a group equal to 1.7% of Durham's population following their actions on Twitter vs. Kogi at just more than 25% of that number.

Well, the crowd gets a little bigger on October 28th with the launch of Farmhand Foods truck.  Drew Brown, former owner of Piedmont, will be at the helm of the truck offering sausages made from pasture-raised livestock from North Carolina.  The company seeps Durham brand values in its FAQ's released by their PR firm.  Pledging "respect" "transparency" and "partnership" the company feels like it was made to be in Durham.

The launch is happening at another of Durham's new hot spots, Fullsteam Brewery - across the street from Motorco Music Hall at the intersection of Rigsbee and Geer Streets.  The occasion will be an opportunity to have a bite, a beverage and a chat with like-minded folks who seek to immerse themselves fully in the Durham experience.

Scratch Makes The List

In the event that an occassion for pie arises, Durham's newest bakery, Scratch, can fill the need.  That they are being nationally recognized - again - for the quality of their product is not really a surprise.

Travel and Leisure magazine posted a ranking of America's Best Pies on their website, and sitting tasty at number four is the Shaker Lemon Pie created by Phoebe Lawless and her crew at their downtown location on Orange Street.

Open for breakfast and lunch with coffee and baked goodies available until 4 PM, the store has generated quite a buzz in its short tenure.  It has been nationally recognized before...and it hasn't been open a year.

A long-time Durham chef, Lawless is a chef's baker using as much local product as possible and crossing the line into the savory realm more than most pastry chefs do.  With savory sandwhiches involving house cooked meats, their own pickled vegetables and fresh made condiments, the shop is a place for those with and without sweet toothes.  There's even a sandwich called the Hot's open-faced, it has a poached egg on it.  Get extra napkins.

Scratch also returns to the Durham Farmers' Market each week.  The place where the bakery really got its start, the thousands of Lawless' fans that came there each week also make up some of the customer base at her store.  The now famous donut muffin is available in both locations each week.

One of Durham's more than three dozen nationally celebrated restaurants, Scratch joins Guglhupf, another Durham bakery and restaurant that has received significant national praise most recently in Cooking Light magazine.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Durham Wayfinders will soon number 1,000

It’s not all that uncommon for destination marketing organizations like DCVB to have a team of volunteers who help with needs in the community such as manning information tables at conventions, helping customers in the official Visitor Information Center or providing assistance at local festivals and events.

What’s highly unusual is the depth and breadth of DCVB’s core group of volunteers called Durham Wayfinders. Currently there are more than 940 volunteers registered in the program which enjoys unparalleled participation compared to peer programs nationally. Based on current growth patterns, it will likely top 1,000 volunteers by early 2011.

The secret to DCVB’s success? “It’s all in the scheduling,” according to Shelly Green, President & CEO. Keeping up with even as few as 100 volunteers while matching organization’s needs to people’s availability can be a full time job – and a nightmare for organizations that have to rely on email and/or telephone to manage the program. Not surprisingly, DCVB adapted technology in a very creative way and came up with a way to manage the program using only about 10 hours of staff time each month.

“We use a software program that allows event organizers to post available opportunities into an online schedule system, said Carolyn Carney, Director of Visitor Services at DCVB. “Then volunteers, who choose how they want to receive notifications – either by email or to their phone, sign up for available shifts.” Wayfinders can also decide which “groups” they want to receive notifications of available volunteer opportunities from such as DPAC, Museum of Life and Science, World Beer Festival or all of the postings.

More than 25 organizations are using Wayfinders, to the tune of almost 4,000 volunteer hours a year.

Interested volunteers can enlist at Visitor features, performance venues and festival and event organizers desiring to tap into the Wayfinder volunteer program should contact Carolyn Carney at

Durham Gets Second Census Research Data Center Lab

Durham's prominence as a research center is well known around the world.  With the release below, that position gets even stronger.  Durham will now have not one, but two Census Research Data Centers.  In addition to the Triangle Census Research Data Center (TCRDC) located on Duke University's campus--one of only nine centers in the U.S. and the only one in the Southeast--the Census is opening a new laboratory in Research Triangle Park in Durham. 

Below is a portion of the media advisory released minutes ago:



New Census Research Data Center Lab to Open in Research Triangle Park

What: Officials from the U.S. Census Bureau, RTI International, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new Census Research Data Center (RDC) laboratory. The new lab, the Triangle Consortium Research Data Center, is actually a branch of the existing Triangle RDC at Duke University in Durham, N.C. RDCs are secure Census Bureau facilities where researchers from academia, federal agencies and other institutions with approved projects receive restricted access to unpublished Census Bureau demographic and economic microdata files.

When: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010; 1 p.m. (EDT)

Who: Robert Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau  and Victoria F. Haynes, president and chief executive officer, RTI International

Where: RTI International, Building 7, 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709

Note: Videography and photography will be permitted. Directions to the RTI.  International campus and a campus map can be found at

Zift Solutions: Turning Information into Impact…IN DURHAM!

Created for the marketing communication professional, Zift Solutions “helps companies improve communications with their resellers, distributors, and customers” with an information management environment that is simple and easy to use. Following a round of financing in which Zift Solutions raised $1.5 million, the company has moved its headquarters and innovative approach in marketing program syndication to Durham on Emperor Boulevard.
“We've more than tripled our work space as we expand to accommodate hiring new support and marketing staff to work with our customers worldwide,” said Scott England, Vice President of Business Development for Zift Solutions.

Always on the forefront of what’s new, DCVB reached out to Zift two years and established a strategic partnership with them to organize clippings from local and national news sources.  The “Durham in the News” widget on the right hand side of is powered by Zift and pulls from DCVB’s online library of media clippings making it easy to share with stakeholders.

Durham Central Market

It’s just so Durham. A group of volunteers have formed the Durham Central Market, a non-profit cooperative grocery store planned in the Central Park District downtown. Considering all the residential growth happening there, and Durham’s continued and undying commitment to great food and local produce, this store was a natural next step. That it is cooperative and that shares are selling quickly is part of what makes it just that much more Durham.

The market will stock high-quality foods and other products with a focus on sustainability and local producers. Using the Weaver Street Market as a model, Durham Central Market will have a community focus but with a uniquely Durham flair for community involvement, healthy alternatives, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Organizers have secured an option on a location on Mangum Street between Hunt and Broadway to build a 10,000 square-foot store. The location will include a parking lot and 3,500 square feet of green space.

Anyone interested in joining the project is encouraged to become a member or owner by purchasing an individual or business owner share. For more information on the effort to make this market a reality, go to

$100 Bill Gets Makeover, Delayed

Attention retailers!  There is a new $100 bill coming...and it uses a lot of cutting-edge anti counterfeiting technologies.  But, rest easy, production delays recently announced mean it won't be here until well after the 1st of the year.  Learn more about it at the link below and be ready when they start showing up.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Google Earth Has Updated Images Of Durham

There are times when marketing a destination is simply an act of capturing the excitement surrounding a small happening. Durham is a very tech savvy place with over 95% of households accessing the internet on a regular basis. People here like technology, the internet, and many of the information delivery conveniences provided by such a level of interconnectivity.

Sometimes things on the internet are just plain cool, too, like Google Earth. They are made more so when they are updated, as happened recently. Local blog Endangered Durham had a post about the update recently, and it prompted a reader to post about Google Earth's timeline feature. Using this tool, it is possible to see Durham all the way back to 1993. 

Watching this place change can be nostalgic, but also exciting to see how it has grown and changed for the better. Durham is a place where great things happen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Feature in Full - The Carolina Theatre

Originally opened in 1926 as the Durham Auditorium, The Carolina Theatre is one of Durham’s most historic performing arts venues. Friday, October 1, marks the kick-off of their 16th season billed as the “2010-2011 Star Series.”

“This is one of the biggest and broadest seasons ever,” states The Carolina Theatre’s President and CEO, Bob Nocek.

Acts include Mike Birbiglia (November 6), Betty Buckley – Broadway by Request (November 20), The Max Weinberg Big Band (February 4), Harlem Gospel Choir (February 12) and Cirque Mechanics Boom Town (February 15,16). The Star Series runs through May 14. Click here to see all the performers in the Star Series and to get ticket information.

The performers in the Star Series will take the stage in Fletcher Hall, but the theater has a variety of different venues to feature both on stage performances and movies, as well as space for meetings and receptions.

Fletcher Hall, the 1,016 seat main auditorium, was restored to its 1926 décor in the mid-1990s, and is the only downtown building designed in the Beaux Arts style. The 30-foot by 64-foot stage has stage-level dressing rooms that can accommodate 54 performers and the backstage walls have been signed by the likes of Alison Krauss, Herbie Hancock, Tony Randall, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, as well as others.

The two cinemas, one seating 276 people and the other seating 76 people, operate year-round. The Chaplin Retrospective which begins tonight is representative of the types of new and innovative film programming initiated to complement the more tradition “art house” cinema programming. Carolina Theatre is also well known as a venue for film festivals hosting the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Escapism Film Festival, Nevermore Film Festival and Retrofantasma Film Series, to name a few.

The final three venues in the theater provide great space for meetings and receptions of all types. The Connie Moses Ballroom features tall windows and grand chandeliers for formal events; while, the Upper Balcony Lobby with subdued lighting is a peaceful space for special events. The Kirby Lobby, located at the main entrance to the theater, is also another great space for personal or corporate events.

The Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc., which is the non-profit organization managing the city-owned Carolina Theatre, epitomizes many of Durham’s core strengths including creativity and enrichment, as well as being open, welcoming and genuine. They are an important piece of the fabric of Durham where presenting authentic, indigenous cultural experiences are as valued as saving historic architecture.

As one of Durham’s 12 performance halls, The Carolina Theatre offers great entertainment, a historic atmosphere, and unique space for any group.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Carter's Visit To Be Rescheduled

The official word from The Regulator Bookshop is that President Jimmy Carter's appearance there will be postponed due to his illness.  He will remain in Cleveland tonight. Visit for more information.

Carter fell ill after an appearance earlier today and was taken for care in Cleveland.  The Regulator's website will be updated when more information is available.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visitors Guide Advertising Still Available, Great New Options Also Offered

With the absolute profusion of online advertising opportunities available to businesses these days, good old-fashioned print advertising seems to have taken a back seat in the minds of some businesses as an effective means to get messages into the hands of interested potential customers.  Truth be told, both are critical in successful marketing.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) offers numerous opportunities for local businesses and organizations to put messages in front of some of the 6 million plus visitors to Durham each year. One of the most visible and recognized publications is the Official Durham Visitors Guide. There are 150,000 copies printed and distributed each year.  The guide is also reproduced online with links to sponsors websites...providing a double bang for the buck. Additionally, DCVB offers online opportunities on its various web platforms and sites.

"DCVB has not only expanded its inventory of online space to reach highly-targeted visitors and newcomers, it has also developed several new offerings in traditional outlets, as well," said Shelly Green, President and CEO. "DCVB provides an effective means for local businesses to connect with visitors needing goods and services," she added. 

Industry professionals agree that great marketing requires multiple theaters of operation. "We tend to think first about online and social media, but then add to it whatever else makes the most sense...and usually that means print and/or broadcast," according to Don Pausback, principal of Pausback Advertising in Durham.  Pausback Advertising has recommended to several of its clients inclusion in the Official Durham Visitors Guide as part of an overall strategy of reaching the lucrative visitor market. 

Not advertising to save money is akin to stopping a clock to save time as the old saying goes.  Well-targeted advertising is--and always will be--an excellent move.  Electronic, print or otherwise, a well-produced advertisement in front of the proper audience in the right medium is almost always going to be effective.

Opportunities still exist for the upcoming 2011 edition of the guide, the most informative guide with the largest distribution of any other visitor publication produced in Durham.  Others guides are profit-making vehicles for outside publishers and are not sanctioned by DCVB..  Click here for additional information.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Durham Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and ING

Durham is one of only four communities in the state selected by America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People for its outstanding, innovative efforts that benefit children and youth.

The 100 Best Communities for Young People recognizes and celebrates extraordinary community-wide efforts to improve the well-being of youth and end the nation’s dropout crisis. Around 350 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part in the competition.

Participating in the lengthy application project was the City of Durham, Durham County, Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, Durham's Partnership for Children, Durham Public Schools, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and MDC Inc. 

For details about the honor, see the release below.

City of Durham and County of Durham Joint News Release

For Immediate Release: September 21, 2010

For Details, Contact:

Deborah Craig-Ray
Assistant County Manager, County of Durham
(919) 560-0002

Amy Blalock
Sr. Public Affairs Specialist, City of Durham
(919) 560-4123, ext. 11253

Durham Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and ING

Competition Recognizes Communities Taking Action to Help Reduce Local Dropout Rates and Create Brighter Futures for Young People

Durham, N.C.—The efforts of Durham civic and community leaders were honored today when America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance), the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to youth and children, announced the city had been named a winner of the Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People (100 Best) competition presented by ING, a global financial services company and leading provider of retirement plans and programs for teachers. Its 2010 recognition marks the second win for Durham in the competition.

The 100 Best designation recognizes those communities that make youth a priority by implementing programs that help keep children in school and prepare them for college and the 21st century workforce. The competition is open to all communities that make children and youth a priority, including small towns, large cities, counties and school districts. In addition to enhancing local educational opportunities, most winning communities have taken steps to facilitate improved access to health care for its young people, encourage youth civic engagement and supply developmental resources that create better places for young people to live and grow. The entire 2010 list of 100 Best Communities for Young People and their accomplishments can be found at

“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Durham is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO. “Durham serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and children and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”

Durham was named one of the nation’s 100 Best because of the community’s focus on accountability. Durham is not afraid to conduct city evaluations to determine what works best for its young people. Significant reports are demonstrating that Durham’s accountability is demonstrating results — more children are enrolled in high quality childcare, child abuse and neglect has decreased, and the dropout rate has also decreased in the last few years. The award-winning System of Care program is the cornerstone of Durham’s accountability. System of Care brings public agencies, families, health organizations and the government together to provide support networks for at-risk youth. System of Care programs are evaluated regularly, and Durham public agencies report frequently on the wellbeing of the city’s young people. Durham abides by the belief that “what gets measured gets done.”

Mentorship programs are also vital to Durham’s commitment to its young people. In 2005, Durham Public Schools partnered with area universities and foundations, businesses and community leaders to launch a year-round youth enrichment program known as Student U. Each year, 200 students participate in Student U which pairs college undergraduates with middle and high school students for tutoring and mentorship. After two years, all mentees increased their readings scores, 93 percent increased math scores, and 95 percent planned to go to college – a significant improvement from the former 70 percent. In addition to Student U, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Durham provides mentors to 350 area youth and Durham Companions links mature, caring adults to 70 at-risk youth.

Durham Board of County Commissioners’ Vice Chairman Ellen W. Reckhow said, “We are very proud to be recognized by America’s Promise Alliance for our efforts to improve the lives of our young people. Through the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), we will also be working with America’s Promise Alliance as a new Grad Nation Community, focusing on seeing that every child graduates from high school ready for college and the 21st Century workforce.”

“For Durham to be recognized for a second time is truly an honor and I hope our innovative programs can be inspiring for other communities to adopt and implement,” said City of Durham Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell. “Our community has worked collaboratively for quite some time to help our young people lead productive lives. From our many different programs and services, such as our recently opened Durham Teen Center, we feel we’re making a significant impact and we are thrilled to be recognized for our hard work at the national level.”

On September 21, 2010, Durham and the other winners spanning 37 states were recognized at a ceremony in front of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Each of the winning communities was formally recognized with a designation on a map of the U.S., illustrating the geographic and demographic diversity of the winning 100 communities. In addition to the 100 Best distinction, Durham and the other top communities will receive two road signs identifying the city as one of 100 Best, as well as a trophy to be presented to local officials later this year.

Alliance Chair Alma Powell and President and CEO Marguerite W. Kondracke revealed the list of winners during the national celebration. They were joined by Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president, ING’s Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs and Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, who both share a passion for the development of young people.
“ING is committed to children’s education and to the advancement of education initiatives that prepare them for successful futures,” said Mims. ”Our support for 100 Best demonstrates our goal of honoring communities like Durham that produce real, measurable results for improving the lives of young people.”

The competition is one element of the Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, a 10-year initiative to mobilize all Americans to take action in their communities to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. More than 7,000 students drop out each school day in the U.S., resulting in 1.3 million young people a year. To help decrease these numbers, the Alliance is more committed than ever to recognizing communities – regardless of size, location or history – that are taking real action to help more young people stay in school and graduate on time.

“100 Best is an essential building block of an inspiring national movement that gives everyone a chance to ensure every young person graduates,” said Powell. “These winning communities refuse to let the challenges they face be the determining factor in the lives of their children and youth. Instead, they are helping to build an infrastructure of assertive, successful and dynamic young people that are the future of this country.”

About 100 Best

First held in 2005, 100 Best honors communities large and small, rural and urban, that are making progress to help young people achieve their potential, which includes earning a high school diploma, securing a good job, and playing an active, productive role in America’s economic vitality. This year, more than 350 communities in 50 states registered online for the 100 Best distinction at

Being a 100 Best community not only demonstrates commitment to local young people; the award fosters local pride, bolsters economic development and shines the spotlight on the people and programs that are building better communities. The competition also facilitates the sharing of best practices among communities nationwide regarding education, access to health care, reading score improvement, youth service and pre-school enrollment, among many other areas.

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. Through the collective power of our partner network, we raise awareness, support communities and engage in nonpartisan advocacy to ensure that young people receive more of the fundamental resources they need to graduate high school prepared for college, work and life. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our young people is grounded in the Five Promises—caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. For more information about America’s Promise Alliance, visit

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