Burton named downtown program manager

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, October 13, 2015

John Burton has been named Farmville Downtown Partnership’s (FDP) program manager.

Burton, 31, a Lebanon native and Longwood University graduate, will begin his duties on Monday, according to a press release.

“John will be a terrific asset to downtown and to the community as a whole,” said FDP President John Miller. “He’s from a small town in Virginia, knows Farmville from his years at Longwood and has experience in retail management and volunteer leadership.”

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Burton, who graduated from Longwood in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics, worked at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., first as a counselor for a summer program and later as a curriculum developer.

Burton will be leaving his current position as the visual manager of the Pottery Barn in Huntsville for his new Farmville post.

“Since graduating from Longwood, Farmville has had a special place in my heart,” Burton said. “I’m thrilled to be coming back and getting to work with the downtown partnership. I can’t wait to be a part of such an amazing community.”

While in Alabama, Burton also coordinated volunteers and events for a non-profit organization, according to the release.

“When I came to college … I just fell in love with Farmville. It reminded me a lot of my hometown, you know, same sort of similar size,” Burton told The Herald. “Farmville is definitely a community that I think has a lot of charm and has a lot of potential to it to be really outstanding.”

He sees an opportunity for FDP to reach more people via social media — an aspect of the job that Burton wants to work toward. The town’s history is also could be built upon, he said. “And then I think that there’s really good potential for like several new or different types of businesses to come into the downtown area,” he said.

According to Sheri McGuire, Longwood’ Small Business Development Center’s executive director, Burton’s nine years of retail management experience with Pottery Barn “demonstrated his ability to manage people and complex situations.”

McGuire who serves as chairman of the FDP’s economic restructuring committee and a search committee co-chair, noted Burton’s use of his Longwood degree. “Burton related his background and skills in mathematics and management to a desire for order and for measurable accomplishments,” she said.

Downtown businessman and search committee member Jimmy Johnson expressed his enthusiasm about bringing Burton on board. “I am very pleased and excited with the attitude and excitement he has shown towards this opportunity,” Johnson said. “I feel he will do an awesome job.”

The FDP received applications from around the country for the position, and after narrowing their search to two finalists selected Burton based on a number of factors, particularly his previous management and volunteer coordination experience.

Burton‘s predecessor, Helen Person, stepped down from the position in May to begin serving as the community revitalization manager for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in Richmond.

The mission of FDP is to present Farmville as an exciting and profitable place to live, learn, open a business and visit.