Local Stories

Overcoming Hurdles in Rural Warrenton

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Supporting local businesses means bridging the gaps that thwart companies from growing, especially when a company is poised for growth and your community stands to benefit greatly from its economic impact. In Warrenton, a dynamic business that faced typical rural obstacles is Quilt Lizzy, an enterprise that provides extensive education, supplies and machinery for quilts and quilt-making.

Business owner Susan Harris created a unique offering for the marketplace — a small-town feel and space for a small-town pastime. Realizing that aficionados will drive a good distance for a quality experience, Harris markets Quilt Lizzy to hobbyists in the region, the state and even beyond. A recent two-day class brought all levels of students from as far away as Alabama for a weekend of quilting and learning.

Outgrowing its original location, Quilt Lizzy urgently needed space to house an ever-expanding clientele. A nearby abandoned building offered available space, but at an impractical cost to renovate. The Town of Warrenton looked to N.C. Commerce’s Main Street Solutions Fund for assistance, applying on behalf of Quilt Lizzy for a building rehabilitation grant. Exceeding $335,000 in repair costs, a grant from Main Street for $100,000 helped to reduce the financial burden. Upon completion, the historic structure contains built-in video cameras that instantly post educational videos on the Internet.

But that’s just the beginning of the Quilt Lizzy growth story and the catalyst effect the company has had in Warrenton. During the course of construction in 2015, Harris realized she needed even more space for her long-arm machines as well as a repair shop. Working with the group at N.C. Commerce’s Main Street Center, the original grant was increased by $50,000 to help rehab a second historic, downtown building. The Quilt Lizzy “campus” now includes three buildings — and no one in Warrenton is convinced that she has stopped acquiring old structures! The positive effect on the economy in Warrenton has been tremendous. During all this expansion, Quilt Lizzy has added seven full-time jobs. It has had a multiplier effect, drawing hundreds of quilters to classes, to visit and shop at other stores and eateries in the area and even to stay at the local bed and breakfasts.