The head of the Fuquay-Varina Downtown Revitalization Association is stepping down after seven years of overseeing growth and redevelopment in the downtown districts.
Executive Director Naomi Riley announced Jan. 24 in an email to various town stakeholders that she has been hired as coordinator of downtown services for the North Carolina Main Street Center. The Main Street program is run by the state’s Department of Commerce and provides grants, advocacy, programming and planning services to its members across the state.
“It’s bittersweet,” Riley said in an interview. “But it was a good opportunity that I felt like I needed to pursue.”
Her new job will echo her role with the Fuquay-Varina nonprofit, which had been responsible for administering the Main Street program in Fuquay-Varina until last year.
“Part of my job will be helping train new Main Street managers,” Riley said. “And since I have that experience myself, there are a lot of things I can share with them – lessons learned, if anything.”
Fuquay-Varina’s Board of Commissioners decided last May to shift administration of the state-funded program to Town Hall as the town works to redevelop downtown with the assistance of consultants. The decision meant the association lost about $45,000 in annual funding.
The association also plans events and programs that attract people downtown, such as the Dinner on Depot Street and BBQ Blues and Brews, as well as a public art display of Bengal tigers.
Riley’s last day was Jan. 31. Her replacement has been approved by the association’s board of directors, Riley said, and is expected to be announced later this week.
Riley’s career began in elementary education, but her passion for Fuquay-Varina’s downtown soon became a career path of its own. She was named the interim head of the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce before accepting the Downtown Revitalization Association’s top job.
Riley said she’ll commute to Raleigh so she can continue to live and volunteer in Fuquay-Varina, where she was born and raised.
“It was probably one of my favorite jobs,” Riley said of her time at the association. “I met the nicest people. It’s so neat to see where we were when we started and where we are today.”
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan