Downtown Farmville kicks off revitalization efforts
A kickoff event celebrating Farmville’s designation as an official Virginia Main Street (VMS) community was held Monday evening at the j. fergeson gallery in downtown Farmville.
At the event, sponsored by Centra Southside Community Hospital, VMS staff presented the town with road signs signifying its designation as a Main Street Community and joined with local officials in discussing the community’s past and future revitalization efforts.
“The purpose of the Main Street program is to help groups like Downtown Farmville maximize the impact of their financial support from the public and private sectors, as well as the efforts of their volunteers,” explained Jeff Sadler, Program Manager for the VMS program at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
“We accomplish this by encouraging a comprehensive approach to downtown revitalization, using best practices learned from other Main Street communities around the country and encouraging a citizen-led decision process for what works downtown.”
In August, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Farmville had become an official VMS designated community, stating “With public and private investment in our traditional commercial districts, we can spark entrepreneurship and job creation downtown . . . . Main Street is a proven model that uses limited state resources to support local strategies and leverage local resources.”
Farmville joins only 24 other currently designated Virginia communities.
“We are very excited about being a part of the Main Street program,” said Farmville Town Manager Gerald J. Spates. “This is a culmination of several years of enhancement projects in the downtown area.”
Monday’s kickoff event followed training on downtown revitalization in November for volunteers of Downtown Farmville, the non-profit organization who spearheaded the application process for this designation. This training will be the first of many intensive services that the organization will receive as participants in the VMS program to bring more vitality to downtown.
The recent training focused on volunteers’ roles and responsibilities, setting priority goals for the next six to 12 months, and assigning responsibilities for achieving these outcomes.
Monday’s event also initiates the start of the hiring process for an executive director for Downtown Farmville. In addition to any previous experience, this full-time professional will receive training from state and national experts on how to best organize and administer renewal efforts in Farmville.
“We have accomplished quite a bit in just over a year,” said Jimmy Johnson, Chairman of Downtown Farmville. “But we still have a lot of work ahead of us to realize our vision for a fully revitalized downtown. That said, together with the town, the state, local businesses and citizens, our volunteers and future staff will help make Farmville an even more pleasant place to work, live and visit.”
For more information about local downtown revitalization efforts, contact Jimmy Johnson with Downtown Farmville at (434) 395-1089. To learn more about the Virginia Main Street Program, visit the VMS Web page at: www.dhcd.virginia.gov/mainstreet, or call (804) 371-7030.