Lt. Gov. Bolling Offers To See How The State Can Help Revitalization In Downtown Farmville
Published 4:30 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010
The downtown Farmville revitalization effort may find a valuable ally in Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and the state resources that might be brought to bear.
Governor Bob McDonnell appointed Mr. Bolling to lead the state's economic development efforts so the lieutenant governor would be an extremely valuable asset to the downtown revitalization effort.
Much will depend, of course, on what final recommendations are eventually unveiled by the independent committee that has begun to seriously address revitalization and what state resources might then be applicable and available to this vital Farmville economic development initiative.
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Lieutenant Governor Bolling spoke last week to the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and The Herald spoke with him afterwards about the revitalization project and asked the Republican how he and the state might be able to help. Those few minutes were productive and the committee would be wise to follow through on the offer from Virginia's lieutenant governor.
The Herald quickly briefed Mr. Bolling, letting him know that this major economic development project for downtown Farmville was being led by an independent committee with representation from the local business community, both colleges, the Town of Farmville, the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Longwood Small Business Development Center and others.
The lieutenant governor was told of the many empty buildings downtown and that the revitalization effort's list of final recommendations might include trying to fill those buildings by targeting specific small businesses. Mr. Bolling was told that, obviously, there is no final plan yet. “I know it's theoretical now, but at the end of the day,” The Herald asked the lieutenant governor, “would it be worthwhile to contact your office as to how it might assist, depending upon what those recommendations are?”
Here's what Lieutenant Governor Bolling said, “Yes, I think it would. In fact, what I would suggest is maybe the next time we're out here just contact (his office) and we can coordinate something. It may be to sit down and just get a little briefing on what you're doing. And maybe we can bring with us some people from the state level that would know about some programs that might be able to help with something like that.
“Just off the top of my head-the Department of Housing and Community Development has some grant programs that can help with projects like that,” Lieutenant Governor Bolling continued. “The Virginia Resources Authority has some programs that might be able to help with something like that. So it might benefit us to take an hour to maybe learn more about what you're doing and then bring a couple of our resource people who might be able to tell you if there's some stuff at the state level that might be able to help facilitate it.”
That is an extremely generous offer and one that sees a powerful man in state government, whose prime responsibility in the McDonnell Administration is economic development, taking the revitalization of downtown Farmville very seriously.
The downtown revitalization committee, which takes the project more seriously than anyone, deserves just such a powerful ally within the commonwealth's corridors of power. And someone who can assemble those responsible for just the state resources that might make the difference in making the dream of downtown revitalization come entirely true.
Even if the committee is fully aware of all available state resources, having the lieutenant governor bring his office to bear on the revitalization of downtown Farmville is nothing but a plus and can best help those resources head toward our community.
Lt. Gov. Bolling is willing to come to Farmville, with representatives of those state agencies, and listen to what the downtown revitalization committee has to say and respond with possible state support. That is an offer and opportunity, when the committee feels it will be most effective, of significant importance. A little too soon, of course, would be better than a little too late because a follow-up meeting can always be scheduled as the process continues. But not afterwards.
No bad can come from Lieutenant Governor Bolling's enthusiasm for the downtown revitalization effort. He's Virginia's chief economic development officer. And he will carry his party's banner in the race for governor in two years. What he has to say carries weight in Richmond. If he says “Farmville,” that is good for Farmville.
Chuck Ross, a key leader within the downtown revitalization committee, knows a good thing when he hears it. “This is exciting news,” he told The Herald on Tuesday after learning what the lieutenant governor had told the newspaper. “We look forward to having the chance to talk with Mr. Bolling about the wonderful opportunities we see ahead for downtown Farmville and what part the state might play. As we have said many times, the renewal of downtown is going to be a team effort and having the lieutenant governor and state resources on our side can only help.”
The truth, indeed.