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Farmville Gains Admission To Main St. Program

FARMVILLE – The Virginia Main Street Program will welcome Farmville as one of four new localities in the VMS program, Governor Bob McDonnell announced Monday.

“I am pleased to welcome these communities to the Virginia Main Street Program,” the governor announced in a press release. “With public and private investment in our traditional commercial districts, we can spark entrepreneurship and job creation downtown in rural and distressed regions of our commonwealth. Main Street is a proven model that uses limited state resources to support local strategies and leverage local resources.”

The Town of Farmville applied in June for admission to the program, which the leadership of Downtown Farmville views as an effective dovetail and extension of local revitalization efforts begun last year.

“How do I feel? Ecstatic!!!!” Downtown Farmville co-chair Jimmy Johnson wrote in an email response to The Herald. “This is tremendous news and a wonderful opportunity for not only downtown Farmville, but for the community as a whole. Both the diligence and hard work which went into the application, as well as the groundwork put in place by our volunteers over the previous 10 months only adds in making this a very rewarding achievement for all involved.

“Never in my wildest dreams a year ago,” Johnson continued, “did I expect Farmville to become a Virginia Main Street community. That was not what we started out to do. We just saw the need and opportunity to work toward revitalizing our downtown before it was too late. This designation, coming just short of our first year anniversary for the organization Downtown Farmville, is a huge accomplishment.”

Fellow Downtown Farmville co-chair Chuck Ross was equally chuffed. “This is a great day and represents the hard work of a large number of people who are dedicated to making Farmville a better place to live and work,” Ross emailed to The Herald. “The governor's announcement reflects his confidence that Farmville has the potential to warrant his support and investment. I believe this is the beginning of the true revitalization and transformation of Farmville.”

Bristol, Hopewell and St. Paul join Farmville, according to the governor's announcement.

The Virginia Main Street program will provide technical assistance, training, and expert resources to assist member communities with aligning resources and achieving their revitalization goals, the governor points out.

“Once designated, Main Street Communities receive intensive direct services from the Virginia Main Street staff and key consultant services, including those focused on economic restructuring strategies,” the governor's announcement states.

“Additional services will also be provided, including those based on initiatives developed as part of the 'Opportunity at Work' budget initiative. The approximate total value of the suite of services is $60,000 to each community ($240,000 total in combined cash value and staff time) in the first year,” the announcement declares.

The Virginia Main Street program is part of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and uses the National Main Street Four Point Approach model to encourage private investment, the governor's office notes, and job creation in Virginia's downtowns. Communities are assisted to develop their own strategies to spur economic growth and pride in their downtowns.

Since its creation 26 years ago, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling adds, within the governor's announcement, the Virginia Main Street program has “attracted more than $677 million in private investment and created more than 4,600 jobs in the past five years. The expansion of this vital program will generate more private investment, as well as jobs, in Virginia's most distressed regions.”

Reflecting further on Monday's announcement by the governor, Johnson observed that “In taking the initiative to seek out and then receive this Main Street designation for Farmvile again shows the tremendous support the community has put behind our efforts in the revitalization of downtown. We look forward to the work ahead and to take full advantage of the services and guidance afforded us by the Virginia Main Street organization.”