Clayton Downtown Development Announces 2020 Award Winners

Downtown Business of the Year, Best Downtown Design, Best New Downtown Business and Downtown Contributor of the Year Recognized During Video Award Presentations

InStill Distilling Co. was named Clayton’s 2020 Downtown Business of the Year by the Clayton Downtown Development Association (DDA) in a prerecorded virtual ceremony broadcast on December 17.

The awards presentation was featured as part of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce 2020 Annual Meeting and Community Awards video.

DDA typically holds an annual awards ceremony at  the Clayton Center, but this year partnered with the Chamber, Clayton Rotary Club, and the Clayton Women in Networking in a combined effort to virtually recognize the outstanding efforts of the volunteers and businesses that serve the town.

DDA gave out awards in four categories – Downtown Business of the Year, Best Downtown Design, Best New Downtown Business and Downtown Contributor of the Year. All of the nominees were nominated by the community. Finalists were chosen by a panelist of non-biased community volunteers, and winners were selected by the DDA 501c3 Non-Profit Association using a specific set of criteria for each category.

InStill Distilling. Johnston County Visitors Bureau Photo

InStill Distilling, located at 710 W Main St, Suite 111, was recognized as 2020 Downtown Business of the Year for being a community gathering spot with a unique and inviting “vibe.” Additionally, their nomination citied their efforts to assist the community by partnering with other local businesses to make and distribute hand sanitizer when the pandemic caused a product shortage and for organizing community programs to benefit the family of fallen firefighter, Jason Dean.

Other finalists for Downtown Business of the Year were The Market at Three Little Birds, 225 E. Main St., and First Street Tavern, 115 E. First St.

Other DDA Award winners include:

2020 Downtown Contributor of the Year – Frontline Appreciation Group (F.L.A.G.) organizers Bev Schectman and Melissa Brown. These women donated their personal time and resources to raise more than $17,000 and used the money to purchase meals for frontline workers. F.L.A.G. provided over 1,900 meals and funneled revenue into 22 local restaurants.  Finalists: Stacy Beard, former Town of Clayton Public Information Officer, and Erin Belcher, owner of Dylan’s Unique Gifts, 234 E. Main St. and DDA Board Member

2020 Best New Downtown Businesses – Corked & UnTapped, 459 E. Main St.
Finalists: Heart2Hands Art Studio & Gallery, 472 E. Second St.; Epic Axe, 213 W. Main St. and The Queen’s Court, 331 E. Main St.

2020 Best Downtown Design – Yellow House The Community Place, 121 E. Main St.
Finalists: Heart2Hands Art Studio & Gallery, 472 E. Second St. and Chefella’s, LLC, 436 E. Main St.

The DDA is an 11-member Town appointed Advisory Board whose mission is to promote and preserve the vitality of Downtown Clayton. Before COVID-19 hit, the DDA organized the Town Square Concert series, the Movie Night series, the Tree Lighting and Christmas Village event and Small Business Saturday while continuously promoting Downtown as a vibrant destination.

The 2020-2021 DDA board members are Laura Johnson, Bernice Lopes, Judy Ryan, Alison Kilpatrick, Heidi-Lee Peach, Erin Belcher, Betsy Grannis, Neal Stancil, Shannon Austin, Christi Thompson and David Millican.

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