Business View Magazine | February 2019

A lthough Kinston, North Carolina, the county seat of Lenoir County in the coastal plains region in the eastern part of the state has been around since its founding in 1762, most Americans have only recently become aware of its existence via the PBS reality cooking television show, A Chef’s Life, starring local res- taurateur and Kinston native, Vivian Howard. Howard’s Chef & the Farmer restaurant has helped put Kinston on the map and according to City Manager, Tony Sears, her establishment is part and parcel of the town’s revitalization efforts as it struggles to come back from the loss of the textile and tobacco industries that, for many years, were the economic mainstays of Kinston and Lenoir County. “Kinston suffered multiple setbacks in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” says Sears, “and that’s something that we’ve been trying to recover from for quite some time. Vivian Howard was a huge success story who started this unbe- lievable restaurant that people come to from all around the United States.” Another Kinston native who has made a substan- tial contribution to the community is Stephen Hill, who has already injected some $12 million into the city’s renewal agenda. And if Howard is Kinston’s most famous daughter, Stephen Hill is the behind-the-scenes wheeler-dealer. Hill is an 189