Junious Smith III
Kinston Free Press
February 3, 2014
Downtown development has been the focal point in the renaissance of Kinston over the past several years. On Jan. 30, two downtown entrepreneurs were recognized for their efforts on a state level.
Mother Earth co-owners Stephen Hill and Trent Mooring were honored as 2013 Main Street Champions at the North Carolina Main Street Annual Awards Ceremony in New Bern.
The two — along with representatives from 32 other Tar Heel communities — received the award for exceptional contributions to the downtown revitalization process.
Kinston hadn’t had a winner in the prestigious competition since John Marston in 2005.
Hill — who, with Mooring, opened the brewery in 2009 — said receiving the award was great, not just for them, but for the entire city of Kinston.
“It’s a great honor to have,” Hill said. “It just means we’re getting recognized for the efforts private developers and others have been doing for the redevelopment of the city.”
Hill and Mooring have invested in the city with other businesses, including The Red Room club in 2012 and Ginger 108 restaurant last year.
The two have also purchased River View Townes, a low-income housing complex downtown, and 60 other homes to spur growth in the historic Mitchelltown district.
Mooring said the two are humbled by the award.
“We’re trying to do our part to make Kinston a better place and promote it,” Mooring said. “It felt great to have the honor.”
Pride of Kinston Director Adrian King, who nominated the pair for the honor, said Hill and Mooring deserved the recognition.
“Pride selected Stephen Hill and Trent Mooring for the award, because they’ve done so much for the community,” King said. “They have a vision and are making it come true. They’ve changed the face of downtown in so many ways.”
Anne Morris, an associate for the Main Street program, said the awards ceremony was initially scheduled as a one-year event in 2000. Michael Dunn and Robert Montague were recipients of the award that year for Kinston.
“The program was so popular, we continued it and many communities nominate one candidate,” Morris said. “We (selected) Stephen Hill and Trent Mooring because they’re considered business partners. Besides individuals, couples, business partners and civic groups are eligible.”
Here is a list of the winners of Main Street Champions from Kinston since the program began in 2000:
2000: Michael Dunn, Robert Montague
2004: John Marston
2013: Stephen Hill, Trent Mooring
Source: Anne Morris, Main Street Program Associate