Five communities across Virginia were selected for participation in a Small-scale Production Pilot program provided by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), through Virginia Main Street, and in partnership with the National Main Street Center. These include the city of Bristol, Page County, town of Farmville/Prince Edward County, city of Norfolk and the Middle Peninsula Alliance region.
The purpose of the pilot is to provide technical assistance to communities to determine the potential for small-scale production/manufacturing as an economic development and revitalization strategy, and to identify opportunities and resources for scale up and implementation strategies.
“Small scale producers are key to strengthening local and state economies,” said Matthew Wagner, Ph.D., vice president of revitalization programs at the National Main Street Center. “These types of producers create jobs, drive tourism and foster businesses that spur long-term growth within a community.”
Small scale production has emerged as a powerful way to tie opportunity to place and can fill a key missing piece in today’s local downtown and community development efforts. Data suggests that this form of manufacturing is rapidly growing in downtowns across the country, expanding and diversifying the employment and retail opportunities found there. Today’s consumers are looking for products with a story, that are locally made and that appeal to their individualism. As a result, from microbrewers to apparel and bike manufacturers, many more people are beginning to blend retail, manufacturing and wholesaling opportunities at a much smaller scale, leading to growing tourism, diversified employment and well-paid job opportunities for local communities.
The pilot will kick off with onsite visits scheduled for March 2020 and technical services, and will conclude with a final report by June 2020.