sobohaliThe towns of South Boston and Halifax are among 16 Virginia cities and towns receiving more than $144,000 in Virginia Main Street grants and technical assistance for 19 projects on Wednesday.

The towns of Halifax, South Boston, Ashland, Lawrenceville, and the cities of Franklin and Petersburg have been awarded technical services to complete proposed projects.

Downtown Investment Grants were awarded to the towns of Altavista, Blackstone, Orange, and St. Paul, and the cities of Hopewell and Staunton.

Six Commercial District Affiliate grants were awarded to the towns of, Scottsville, Pulaski, South Hill and Bowling Green and the city of Radford.

“We got two of them,” said a pleased South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab. “I think it’s excellent that they – Virginia Main Street – realizes we’re doing a great job and are willing to help us.”

Destination Downtown Executive Director Tamyra Vest said the Virginia Main Street program is providing funding for technical assistance to help Destination Downtown South Boston apply for a grant to bring a barn quilt trail to downtown.

Vest added the technical assistance provided by the Virginia Main Street program also is being used to help with the “rebranding” of downtown South Boston.

The town of Halifax will use its technical assistance from the Department of Housing and Community Development for a revitalization road map.

“Yesterday’s announcement of the DHCD-VA Main Street technical assistance award is a great boost to the town’s renewed revitalization efforts,” said Carl Espy, Halifax town manager.

DHCD Director Erik Johnston made the announcement during the award ceremony luncheon at Hotel Virginian in Lynchburg, closing out the VA Main Street Intersections Conference.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam, Espy and Denise Barksdale, assistant manager, attended the three-day conference in addition to representatives from South Boston.

The technical assistance from DHCD will help build organizational capacity, community participation, marketing development and downtown revitalization goals within the next year.

Diana L. Schwartz, MSARP, community development program administrator, will coordinate in tandem with Sandra Tanner with the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), and the work Tanner is currently performing with the town, Espy said.

Over the upcoming months DHCD and VTC will continue working with the community of Halifax and receiving input to help formalize this strategic plan with a report which will then be presented to Halifax Town Council to adopt as part of its Economic Development Strategy under the Town of Halifax Comprehensive Plan and Halifax Downtown Revitalization Plan.

Then it will determine and outline the organizational capacity to implement the Virginia Main Street transformation strategies through organization, design, promotion and economic vitality to accomplish those downtown revitalization goals within the next two to three years, Espy added.

“In the last five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $406 million in private investment in their districts,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Attracting private investment continues to be a goal for all of our Main Street communities, and through this funding, we are encouraging new investment in the community and creating sustainable downtowns for all to enjoy.”

In 1985, DHCD adopted the Main Street program for Virginia to help prevent downtown districts across the commonwealth from economic decline. This unique program is Virginia’s state coordinating program for Main Street America, which works to re-energize economic development of downtown communities while utilizing their cultural assets and character. This is further accomplished by pooling the resources of their local civic and business leaders who are determined to bring their Main Street communities back to life.

The innovative Main Street Approach uses design, promotion, economic vitality and organization to help localities build better communities. The Virginia Main Street program is comprised of 26 designated communities and more than 90 Commercial District Affiliates throughout Virginia.

From The Gazette Virginian