Wilck’s statement addressed

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

Editor:

I was disappointed that The Herald reported an account of conversations involving the president’s office at Longwood without seeking confirmation or comment from those named (“Funding policy approved,” June 15).

The prosperity and vitality of our region depend on attracting, cultivating and retaining entrepreneurs, thriving businesses and families. Here in Farmville, Prince Edward and across 20 southside counties, the Longwood-based Small Business Development Center plays an essential role undertaking this important work. In 2015, the Farmville SBDC office alone worked with roughly 100 entrepreneurs through seminars and other consulting projects. Had that effort produced even a handful of jobs, it would more than pay back the modest $7,500 investment by Prince Edward County. In fact these efforts created and retained 79 local jobs and $825,000 in new capital investment.

Center Director Sheri McGuire and her staff work tirelessly with existing and prospective business owners, selling them on our communities and helping them succeed — places like Uptown Coffee that have made our community a better place to live, which in turn helps attract new businesses.

A few weeks ago, our office became aware of concern about the county budget situation. There was concern that if Prince Edward’s modest investment in SBDC were not cut, other local entities that are particularly dependent on the county would suffer, specifically the public library. We conveyed we did not want to see that happen, and that if such a cut was truly necessary, we would reduce our request for this year.

Longwood continues to support the SBDC, and we will ensure its work continues. In the longer run, however, our collective prosperity requires working together to build an entrepreneurial culture in Southside, and that will require buy-in from our community’s leadership across the board.

Justin Pope

Chief of Staff

Longwood University