The Debate: ‘Big boost’ expected

Published 11:28 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

Business leaders and town officials expect Farmville to continue to bustle with increased visitors and business activity long after Tuesday’s U.S. Vice Presidential Debate. If it’s anything like what happened to Danville, Ky., and Centre College, where the last U.S. Vice Presidential debate was held, the impact will be profound.

Centre College spokesman Michael Strysick said the impact on the college “was positive in every way imaginable and every way measurable.” In the same vein, Farmville could see unprecedented publicity. “It was worldwide publicity, certainly,” Danville City Manager Ron Scott said of the debate.

Gerald Spates

Gerald Spates

Community leaders in Farmville expect similar results.

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“I think the debate will have a very positive effect on the town,” Farmville Downtown Partnership (FDP) Program Manager John Burton said. “All the beautification efforts made for the debate will exist for the future. I think the debate will expose many members of the media to Longwood University, Farmville and Prince Edward County. I have no doubt that many of them will be returning in the future to experience our wonderful shopping venues, exciting outdoor recreation and to tell more of our stories.”

Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates said he thinks a lot of people are looking at Farmville now.

“I always hear it from people all the time (who say) once they come here, they fall in love with it,” Spates said. He agreed increased exposure and publicity will serve as the largest impact.

“I think for the two weeks (surrounding) the debate it’ll be a big boost for the businesses around Farmville, and I think, hopefully, afterwards that a lot of people that may see it on TV may get curious and want to come by and see what it’s all about,” Spates said.

Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joy Stump said she hopes visitors will want to return after they see everything the area has to offer.

“I do think this is our time to shine and I hope tourism will increase. It certainly gives us something to brag about for the next few years,” Stump said.

Farmville Mayor David Whitus predicted the debate will offer a bird’s-eye view of the town and its offerings.

“On the night of the debate, literally millions of people will be hearing ‘Longwood’ and ‘Farmville’ for the very first time,” Whitus said. “Being America’s first two-college community with such a rich history and a furniture mecca, along with the many outdoor recreational opportunities, we hope to attract many visitors for years to come.”

Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett said the joint efforts with the town and Longwood “will bring long-term benefits to the citizens of Prince Edward County. We are proud that our community will be on display to the nation, and in fact the world, to see this is a great place to work, play and live.”