Downtown Manteo on a First Friday evening.

Downtown Manteo on a First Friday evening.

The DAC program—that stands for Downtown Associate Community—is a pretty remarkable opportunity created by the state Department of Commerce.

And Manteo just found out that the town is going to be participating in it.

What the program does it partners the experts at Commerce with the town. And by the town, the way the DAC program works, it’s businesses, nonprofits, government, citizens…everybody. What they are doing is creating a real buy-in to create an economic opportunity for the whole community.

Getting into the program is very competitive. It’s a real tribute to the sales pitch the team made to the selection committee back in July that the town was selected.

DAC Possibilities for the Town

The program is a three year process, and the first official meeting won’t even occur until this summer. So at this point in time, no one is quite sure what the direction the experts will suggest is going to be.

There are a couple of things that all DAC communities have in common. They must be under 50,000 in population. There must be a recognizable downtown. And because the program emphasizes history and heritage, a downtown that has some of those old buildings certainly helps.

Manteo certainly has all of that. Other than that, though, it’s difficult to know what direction the program will take. Business leaders and government officials have pointed to the waterfront area of the town as a real asset and one that they feel can be better utilized.

Manteo gets a good share of the summertime traffic from the beach communities, but it may be there are ways to attract more people to the town.

It’s very much up in the air right now. In six or nine months we’ll probably know a bit more. In three years, who know—maybe a new and even better Manteo will be part of the Outer Banks.

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