• 73°

Partnership celebrates five years

With a celebratory toast April 27 — one that included business owners, community leaders and supporters of downtown Farmville — the Farmville Downtown Partnership (FDP) acknowledged five years of success at the Virginia Tasting Cellar, noting its accomplishments and future endeavors.

“We’re happy to have you gathered here with us as our finest supporters and champions,” said FDP President Sheri McGuire, who also works as the director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center. She thanked the large crowd of supporters present for “sharing in our successes over the last five years.”

McGuire, who succeeds Dr. John Miller in the role of FDP president, said the partnership became a 501c3 nonprofit and a Main Street Organization five years ago though planning and organizing of the group came much earlier.

“Here’s to our downtown, her current and future, dedicated business owners, her two colleges and the energy their students bring, her river, her trails, her many historical treasures, the leadership, her champions and finally, last but not least, to the partnership spirit that supports her,” McGuire said, leading the toast to the organization.

“Tonight we celebrate everything downtown Farmville is as a Main Street community — everything we have accomplished and all the great things the future has in store for us,” McGuire said.

She said the Main Street designation meant many things, including a proven structure and a program of development involving economic development, design, promotion and organization.

“We also have training opportunities and networking with other certified Main Street organizations through the (Virginia) Department of Housing and Community Development. We have grant opportunities that come about because of our Main Street status, and we have professional consulting and design assistance available to us and our merchants as a Main Street member.”

McGuire recognized founding members of the partnership, including Jimmy Johnson, Dr. Chuck Ross, Caryn Kayton, Gerald Spates and Cindy Morris. She also recognized past and current FDP board members.

“When this organization started, I don’t think that anyone could have known how successful that we would be,” said FDP Program Manager John Burton. “All the time, people stop me around town to express how glad they are that the downtown partnership is doing what it’s doing.”

Burton, who moved to town about 18 months ago, said he was amazed at what’s been accomplished by volunteers and leaders of the organization.

He called last year a “banner year” for Farmville.

Former and current FDP board members pose for a photo. Pictured are, from left, Caryn Kayton, Pam Butler, Kerry Mossler, Jen Cox, Jimmy Johnson, Louise Waller, the Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson, Dr. Chuck Ross, Dr. John Miller, Sheri McGuire and Ilsa Loeser.

“To me, that word partnership really most accurately describes who we are and what we do,” Burton said. “The best part of my job is to be able to meet with different people, different businesses, different organizations and find out how we can partner with them. …”

Last year, Burton said FDP partnered with Centra Southside Community Hospital, Coca- Cola Consolidated, the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Moton Museum, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Main Street, Longwood University, the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, Hampden-Sydney College, Prince Edward County and the Town of Farmville.

“Within those partnerships, that really is what enables us to do everything that we’re able to do,” Burton said.

During his speech to supporters, who sat on the deck at the cellar overlooking the Appomattox River, he highlighted the projects and accomplishments FDP has seen over the past year, noting more artwork downtown, the inaugural SOUP event, notable volunteer hours, the Civil Rights Walking Trail and other events.

Looking ahead, Burton said, “We have some amazing things on our schedule already.”

He noted the recently announced expanded downtown district. “We feel that this is really going to help extend our services to many more businesses and individuals.”