Finding Main Street Toolkit Available

The full book club toolkit for Dar Williams’ What I Found in a Thousand Towns is now available! Use the toolkit to build “positive proximity,” and start local conversations around the key identity-building assets in your community–who knows what next steps you will take.

What I Found in a Thousand Towns emphasizes the role of projects and individuals in fostering strong community identity. Each chapter features a different group of assets ranging from local food to community spaces. The structure provides an opportunity for Main Street districts to convene and highlight a diverse group of partners, celebrating their work, strengthening alliances and inviting new participants.

Identify potential projects as a result and apply to pitch them for project funding in the 2019 Idea Pitch at Downtown Intersections.

fms tools

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Invite a local book club, library or civic group to partner with your Main Street. Create some buzz reinforcing the value of the work you are doing. Using the Virginia videos and examples from the book, shine a celebratory light on your own local efforts and community partners. With the toolkit, you can pretty easily set up your own informal mini-conference.  Contact Doug Jackson at (804) 418-9878 or Douglas.Jackson@dhcd.virginia.gov for assistance and brainstorming support.

Afraid you do not have enough readers? Do not worry, you can use the videos to supplement and start the conversation. Launched throughout the fall of 2018 via Facebook Live conversations, the chapter videos have received more than 20,000 views on Facebook. In 2019, DHCD will promote the videos through a Finding Main Street social media campaign featuring quotes and images from the interviews conducted as part of the project with more than 80 Main Street leaders. This campaign will lead up to the 2019 Downtown Intersections and the Idea Pitch competition.

 

 

What is a “brownfield?”

Often, we think of brownfields as large industrial properties with environmental contamination and hazardous materials. However, a broader definition includes real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. This means that the Virginia Brownfield Restoration and Economic Development Assistance Fund (VBAF), administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), may be able to assist with funding to overcome environmental concerns for gateway or downtown commercial district properties.

Mutual Pharmacy, Big Stone Gap

The town of Big Stone Gap is utilizing these resources in the redevelopment of the Mutual Pharmacy that closed in 2013, with the VBAF funds going specifically to remove asbestos and lead-based paint. Along with DHCD funding from both the Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), as well as the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, for construction, Big Stone Gap will transform the Mutual Pharmacy building into a restaurant and bar space with upper-story, short-term lodging in order to draw locals and visitors downtown for outdoor events and unique food, thereby increasing tourism to the area.

Mutual Pharmacy building(interior) after remediation

Once the revitalization is complete, approximately 25 jobs will be created and serve as a catalyst to bring additional business investment in downtown Big Stone Gap.

Funds from VBAF can be applied to site assessments and planning or remediation. For local government entities, planning and assessment grants are available up to $50,000 on a rolling basis as funding is available. Remediation grants up to $500,000 are available when announced on a competitive basis. Both funds require a dollar-for-dollar match. In addition, there are other great opportunities available to pursue from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields funding that are open until Jan. 31.

If you would like more information on these programs or to see if your project qualifies, contact DEQ’s Vincent Maiden, brownfields program coordinator, at Vincent.Maiden@DEQ.Virginia.gov or 804-698-4064.

Resources:

Virginia DEQ Brownfields Program

https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/RemediationProgram/Brownfields.aspx

EPA Region 3 Brownfields Assistance

https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-and-land-revitalization-delaware-maryland-pennsylvania-virginia-west

Town of Big Stone Gap

http://www.bigstonegap.org/

For the New Year, Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

Traditionally, when one year wraps up and a new one begins, we, as individuals, start thinking forward in resolutions.  It’s no different for Main Street nonprofits, as a new work plan provides the blueprint for the change the board of directors envisions for the district.  It is no doubt a great idea to start off inspired and motivated with a laid out path.  However, before moving on, take a moment to reflect on the past year and express gratitude to the nonprofit’s donors, especially important following year-end gifts.

“Thank you”—these two simple words can make or break the relationship between an organization and its donors.  Most nonprofits know how important it is to send acknowledgment letters after receiving gifts. But, to truly engage and retain donors, we need to practice an attitude of gratitude to ensure that our donors feel appreciated and our board members are excited about fundraising—a win-win for any nonprofit!

The experts at #networkforgood have you covered with 10 creative donor thank you ideas.  They say “periodic expressions of your gratitude can do so much to build the relationship between your organization and your donors; especially when they are thoughtful and unexpected. Use these 10 ideas to spark your creativity and generate new ways to say thank you to your donors.”

Check out the 10 ideas>>>

We hope you enjoyed your holidays, and happy new year!

Small Business Resource Guide now available

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has developed a Small Business Resource Guide that provides information on many of the items that new or expanding small businesses and entrepreneurs need. This includes financing programs, grant programs, business development resources and training opportunities, as well as university entrepreneurship programs that are available to the public.

The guide is a living document, so it will be updated often as new programs and resources become available or we are made aware of appropriate available resources. The guide can be found on the Resources and Reports page of the Virginia Main Street blog, or click here for a copy.

If you know of a great resource – federal, state, regional or local – that should be added, please let us know!

How To Apply Workshops coming in January!

The Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Community Development Division will be holding how-to-apply workshops across the commonwealth in January as several grant programs will open for application submissions on January 2, 2019.

DHCD’s grant programs offer flexible resources that allows communities and local/regional organizations do more to create vibrant communities.

The workshops will discuss several programs offered by DHCD, including:

The workshops will feature discussions regarding the application process for each program, successful projects that have been implemented by these programs, changes for the coming year and how you can best position your effort as you prepare to apply for a grant.

The workshops will be held on the following dates and locations:

  • Jan. 8, 2019 – Richmond
  • Jan. 10, 2019 – Newport News
  • Jan. 15, 2019 – Staunton
  • Jan. 16, 2019 – Wytheville (will include a CDBG overview)
  • Jan. 17, 2019 – Danville

To register for one of the workshops, click on this link.

Coworking Spaces: The new office space for the future of work

There has been a meteoric growth in the number of coworking spaces in the United States, from an estimated 14 in 2007 to more than 11,000 in 2017. The number is expected to balloon to over 26,000 by 2020! This growth has mirrored the growth of workers working in the “gig” economy, with an estimated 40 percent of the population to be engaged in some sort of freelance work by 2020. In fact, a coworking company is poised to become the largest user of private office space in Manhattan.

Coworking spaces are shared working spaces that have been created to allow entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups and work-from-home professionals a place to work without many of the overhead expenses associated with a traditional office space. Users can access shared or private office space, shared resources, networking opportunities and an environment that is conducive to productivity.

Membership levels are offered that can be tailored to any entrepreneur’s needs and budget. As the popularity of coworking spaces has increased, we are seeing more amenities being offered; from desk space to a private office, meeting rooms, private space to make phone calls, mail services and even storage space, most entrepreneurs can find a coworking space that will meet their needs.

We are also starting to see some companies add coworking space to their existing retail or commercial spaces. Cowork Cafe in Arlington is a coffee shop/cafe with coworking space available, as well. Even big box retailers like Staples and Office Depot are getting into the coworking market! In Staunton, the Innovation Hub was created with the help of a Building Entrepreneurial Economy grant and is a great example of all of the possibilities of this type of work space.

While it is unclear whether coworking spaces are here to stay, the prevailing attitude is that they are and will continue to disrupt the current model of how and where people work.

Vote Your Main Street!

Danville’s Main Street program – the River District Association – is a FINALIST for the 2018 Partners in Preservation: Main Street campaign! You are invited to #VoteYourMainStreet from NOW until Oct. 26 to decide which historic sites along 20 of America’s favorite Main Streets should receive $2 million in preservation funding from American Express.

Partners in Preservation is an initiative created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to engage the public in preserving and increasing awareness of America’s historic places and their role in sustaining local communities. Since its inception in 2006, Partners in Preservation has committed over $22 million in support of more than 200 sites.

From the early 1900s through the civil rights movement and beyond, Union Street was first a thriving tobacco warehouse district, and then a mecca for black businesses and entrepreneurship. This project will restore two storefronts to foster continued entrepreneurship and create space for celebrating the area’s civil rights history.

 

 

 

The River District and the city of Danville have made North Union Street an area of particular focus for investment in 2018 and 2019. The city is matching funds received through a Virginia Main Street Downtown Investment Grant to provide grant funding for facade improvements along this corridor. In addition, the organization and the city have also partnered on a Community Business Launch grant through DHCD that will target business recruitment efforts in this area. The Partners in Preservation: Main Street would provide additional resources to not only preserve, but to revitalize this district!

Help Danville to win – Vote Early, Vote Often!