RUTHERFORDTON — Leeanna Torvinen is excited about Rutherfordton and hopes to spread that excitement to others in her new role as executive director of Rutherford Town Rising (RTR), the town of Rutherfordton’s downtown development program.
Torvinen grew up in the Shingle Hollow community northwest of Rutherfordton, and attended R-S Central High School. She later attended Isothermal Community College and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2020.
Like many college students, she spent the bulk of her senior year working on her classwork “online,” from home in Rutherford County because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That is when I realized that I love being here. I love the people here. And I want to be here,” Torvinen said.
Moving back to Rutherfordton immediately after graduating from college was not in Torvinen’s original plan.
“I thought I would eventually make my way back to Rutherford County, after spending a few years living away. But, COVID really changed that for me,” Torvinen said. “I am so happy to be back in Rutherfordton.”
Torvinen and her brother operate their own business, Mid-South Pumping, a sewer pumping service company based in Rutherfordton. As the RTR position is part-time, she was approached by several town leaders about applying for the job.
Torvinen says she is happy to be doing both. She loves working with her family, and working with RTR enables her to use some of the knowledge she gained studying communications in college, as well as her natural gifts for connecting with people.
“I love being here. I believe it’s where I’m supposed to be,” Torvinen said. “And I love meeting people.”
She believes Rutherfordton, and especially downtown, is on the cusp of a period of growth.
“This town is a unique, tight-knit community of people who support each other, and want to see each other succeed like none other that I have seen,” Torvinen said. “It’s the people who make Rutherfordton special.”
Torvinen is encouraging those wanting to start a new business, or relocate, to consider downtown Rutherfordton. And as executive director of RTR, she is taking an inclusive approach toward all businesses in Rutherfordton.
“Rutherfordton has an enormous amount of untapped potential. I believe downtown is about to take off,” she said. “I am sensing a growing, more energetic vibe in the town. This is a great time to consider operating a business in Rutherfordton.”
Torvinen is eager, she says, to meet with the current business owners, and those who are considering Rutherfordton.
“My goal is to help them be more successful. Any success is a success for all of us,” she added.