According to WDBJ7.com, Radford is past the “tipping point” and Main Street Radford’s vision to create “a destination district widely recognized as the best place in the New River Valley for an independent business to succeed and grow” is becoming a reality. Entrepreneurs are setting up shop in once empty storefronts, and visitors can add coffee shops, sushi bars and even a hookah bar to the list of small, locally-owned businesses to visit downtown.
Creating or restoring a built environment on Main Street that encourages entrepreneurs to set-up shop isn’t done quickly or cheaply. Radford’s “Mr. Historical Building,” Joe Fortier, owner of Taylor Hollow Construction, has spent a decade and more than $5.6 million renovating Radford’s historic buildings.
“It takes a while to get over what I call the tipping point, where people see it and then throw their weight behind it, as opposed to saying no it won’t happen and don’t help,” said Fortier. “But, in the end, it pays off. [Radford] is becoming, and can be an example of, what a small city could look like in southwest Virginia.”
According to Todd Barman of the National Trust Main Street Center, “It takes a concrete and compelling vision of a fully functioning future downtown marketplace to attract entrepreneurs and investors, who will eventually realize that vision.” It appears that entrepreneurs and investors in the New River Valley have bought into the vision for Radford’s downtown and are now busy making that vision a reality.
“I love it. When I come downtown and see this revitalization, plus what the private investment people have done, just showing the effort and just trying to get other businesses downtown, it’s encouraging. It makes you just want to explore the whole downtown.” – Becky Haupt, Executive Director, Main Street Radford