Downtown Farmville (Farmville Downtown Partnership) has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center®, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs that have built strong revitalization organizations and demonstrate their ability in using the Main Street Four Point Approach® methodology for strengthening their local economy and protecting their historic buildings.
“We congratulate this year’s nationally accredited Main Street programs for meeting our established performance standards,” says Valecia Crisafulli, acting director of the National Main Street Center. “Accredited Main Street programs are meeting the challenges of the downtown in the economy head on and are successfully using a focused, comprehensive revitalization strategy to keep their communities vibrant and sustainable.”
The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Virginia Main Street®, a program of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia Main Street® works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program’s application of the Main Street Four Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as developing a mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking economic progress and preserving historic buildings.
Created as Downtown Farmville in the summer of 2010, the local organization has enjoyed an impressive rise to national accreditation. The volunteer-driven Board of Directors and Committees, working in partnership with the Town of Farmville with support from the Prince Edward County government, has participated in many local events and programs since its designation as a Virginia Main Street Community in August, 2011. Part of the group’s efforts has involved presenting to the public the Main Street® Four-Point Approach program and its benefits for realizing overall downtown revitalization goals.
Based on a comprehensive strategy for infusing life into an historic downtown commercial district, the Four-Point Approach™ includes four areas of work, each with a different focus: Organization (people and funds), Economic Restructuring (supporting existing businesses while recruiting new entrepreneurs), Design (the look and feel of the Main Street® District), and Promotion (celebrating the District through retail promotions and special community events). The organization employs paid professional staff to support the volunteers who give of their time, expertise, skills, and education to contribute to the overall effort of creating a vibrant, exciting downtown community.
The local organization’s leadership consists of downtown business owners, representatives from both institutions of higher learning, civic leaders, and community volunteers. This community-wide involvement is evident in the composition of Downtown Farmville’s Board of Directors, Committees, and volunteer task groups. As such, the organization has adopted its “Partners” program of sponsorship for the contribution of financial and other support.
“When you live and work in a town the size of Farmville that depends on the support of the greater community, the people who live, work, and shop in our district look upon the downtown as being theirs,” President Jimmy Johnson said. “We depend on each other to build our downtown community to be the kind of live-shop-work-dine-play environment that we all want. The Partners philosophy permeates everything Downtown Farmville is and does.”
Through partnership with local civic organizations, Downtown Farmville hosted the Farmville North Pole with Santa Claus visiting each Saturday throughout the 2012 holiday season. Over 250 children plus their families were served on five Saturdays between Thanksgiving and December 25th. Two “Fun with Cupid” gift packages with a combined $1,000 retail value were given away on Valentine’s Day 2013.
Property owners like Don Blessing and Marshall Ellet have made aesthetic improvements to windows and awnings while Dianne and Nathan Bozarth have tackled a major façade restoration that will return the storefront of 308 N. Main Street to one more compatible with the building’s Italianate style architecture. The Bozarths were assisted by Downtown Farmville’s Design Committee, Town Planner Cindy Morris, and Virginia Main Street Design Services to develop the design and schematic drawings for their project.
Major business openings such as Mainly Clay and Farmville Sweet Shop have spurred interest in entrepreneurs locating in Farmville’s downtown district. A Small Business Seminar series co-sponsored with Longwood Small Business Development Center and the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce provided information to entrepreneurs. A summer seminar targeting restaurant entrepreneurs is scheduled for summer 2013.
As the local organization progressed, the leadership became increasingly aware that the destination Downtown Farmville and the organization Downtown Farmville were being confused with each other. The eight-block Main Street® district established by the state coordinating program was being confused with the physical Main Street that runs north-to-south through Farmville and includes the downtown area.
“We were spending the first part of every conversation trying to establish what we were talking about – the destination, the organization, or the downtown district,” Johnson shared. “The more we were doing, the more confused it seemed the public became.”
A visioning/branding session in late February put a face on the issue when consultant Aaron Arnett of Arnett Muldrow & Associates recommended the organization consider developing alternative names for the destination and the organization. In April, Downtown Farmville the organization became known as Farmville Downtown Partnership, a tip of the hat to the Partners program and philosophy so strategic to the group’s core principles.
“To signify a shift in the complexion of the district,” Johnson explained, “we are now calling the district ‘Farmville Downtown’. There are so many Downtown somethings that the listener had to really be paying attention to which downtown. We thought by having the name of the town first, it drives home where you’re talking about. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s beginning to catch on.”
As Farmville Downtown Partnership grows and plans for the future, more new businesses are being planned for the district. Façade improvement projects continue and the organization receives new offers of volunteer and financial support on a daily basis. Farmville Downtown is proving that the Main Street® Four-Point Approach works.
Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts. Working in more than 2,200 downtowns and urban neighborhoods over the last 32 years, the Main Street program has leveraged more than $55.7 billion in new public and private investment. Participating communities have created 473,535 net new jobs and 109,693 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 236,418 buildings, leveraging an average of $18 in new investment for every dollar spent on their Main Street district revitalization efforts.
New this year for the 2013 Heart of Virginia festival there will be a sidewalk sale downtown from 4th street to the river and everything in between. Many of your favorite Downtown Farmville merchants will have special items for sale!
Check out the news and happenings of your Downtown Farmville Main Street organization and how we’re helping you to rediscover Farmville Downtown!
Helen Person is Downtown Farmville’s first executive director, President Jimmy Johnson announced recently.
Selected from 51 applicants from around the country, Helen Person moved from her native Georgia to Farmville on October 1st. At 8:30 the morning of October 2nd, Person was in a meeting of the Holiday Promotions subcommittee. Composed of merchants and community members, this group developed a series of events for the upcoming holiday season. The result was the 2012 Hometown Holidays featuring the Farmville North Pole on Saturdays in downtown.
Person grew up in retail cutting her teeth in her father’s pharmacy. She graduated from the University of Georgia School of Journalism in 1976 and became a journalist. Her career has followed a varied path with a 21-year-stint as a manufacturers representative in the gift and souvenir industry. She returned to the University of Georgia in 2008 to pursue a two-year graduate degree in Historic Preservation. Her thesis work was on the Main Street® design. Entitled “The Main Street Design: Power, Politics, and Priorities”, the 2010 publication examined the implementation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street® program in both public and private administrative settings.
Person developed an interest in the Main Street® program after serving on the local organization’s Board of Directors in her hometown. The program there was administered as a department within the local government. “When Main Street® is a part of the local government, it becomes subject to the politics that too often rule what happens in that community,” she observed. “When the Main Street® program is a local non-profit partner with the local governments, it tends to really boost community involvement.”
“I am thrilled to be in Farmville,” Person said recently. “We have such a wonderful cross-section of the community involved in the organization. The support from the Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County is incredible. When you add Longwood, Hampden-Sydney, and the community-at-large, Downtown Farmville cannot help but succeed. This is really an exciting time.”
Professionally, Person completed the Georgia Academy for Economic Development’s Regional Economic & Leadership Development program and is a Certified Grant Writer through the Georgia Center for Continuing Education at the University of Georgia. Additionally, she is a Certified Instructor of Trainers through the Girl Scouts of the USA and Certified Lay Speaker with the United Methodist Church.
Active in her community, Person Since coming to Farmville, Person has become active with the Farmville Lions, Farmville Rotary, and Farmville United Methodist church. She and her husband Darrell have three children, three grandsons, and serve as household staff for four cats.
The Downtown Farmville Main Street® organization office is located in the Virginia’s Heartland Visitor Center, 121 E. Third Street in downtown Farmville. Person can be reached at 434-392-3060, by e-mail: email@example.com, or via Facebook message: www.facebook.com/downtownfarmville.
For three hours on November 2nd, Mainly Clay’s Pam Butler hosted close to 100 people in her store. Of that number, 12 were members of a pottery class. The rest were shoppers enticed to come to Downtown Farmville on a Friday night for Holiday Open House.
A tradition in Farmville, the Holiday Open House is an evening of extended operating hours for many of the downtown merchants and services. Typical hours for many downtown merchants is 10 am—5 pm. Most downtown service provider hours are 9 am—5 pm.
Jimmy Johnson of Sleeping Bee was thrilled about the response to the extended hours for Holiday Open House. “We had a great day for Christmas sales on Friday,” Johnson said. “Many of the shoppers that came in our store were first timers who had heard about our down- town stores. They were excited about what they found and were grateful that the stores were open after five.”
The Bakery’s regular monthly wine tasting coincided with the Holiday Open House. Shoppers at the store were intrigued by the selection of wines, craft beers, cheeses, and specialty foods available in Farmville.
Navona Hart of Real Living Cornerstone hosted an open house in her offices on the corner of Main and Second Streets. An annual event for Hart, the Open House provides her with an opportunity to welcome guests to Farmville, show them true hospitality, and showcase the services her brokerage provides.
“Farmville has so much to offer,” Hart said. “This is my home and I want to share that with others looking for a new place to live or bring their business. If we aren’t here to welcome them, they’ll keep on looking. The Open House is a chance for everyone downtown to show what we have to offer.