Autonomous Transit Shuttle Service to Launch in Crozet

The Downtown Crozet Initiative, a DHCD Commercial District Affiliate community organization, is embracing cutting-edge technology to help make visiting downtown a convenient, zero-emission experience, shuttling customers from a parking area into the commercial core.  While it may sound more Jetsons than Main Street, this is the real deal.

Crozet’s Perrone Robotics, Inc., JAUNT, Inc. and Albemarle County just announced a partnership to develop, test and operate the autonomous transit shuttle service pilot. The pilot program will start March 2019 in Crozet with hopes to expand toward Charlottesville, allowing riders to embark and disembark along a fixed route.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek shared, “Albemarle County has long supported vibrant communities, and an autonomous, zero-emission transit service brings the promise of reduced parking needs and greater use of green technologies in our urban centers – allowing our community to continue to flourish into the future.”

This is one customer-oriented innovation to watch.  Learn more >>>

Getting Started with Virginia Main Street

Virginia Main Street is accepting applications from communities interested in being designated a Virginia Main Street community. However, if your community is not ready to take this step, here are steps to to help establish or reinvigorate a successful local preservation-based downtown revitalization organization.  

  • Look at downtown as if you are a first-time visitor. What is positive? What needs improvement?
  • Invite a Main Street volunteer or manager from another community to talk with a group of community leaders about what that community and organization has accomplished and how the program works.
  • Recruit board members and take them to other downtowns to meet with peers, hear about what does and does not work, and see how your downtown compares.
  • Adopt articles of incorporation and bylaws, and register with the State Corporation Commission.
  • Decide if you can afford to hire a program manager, or more importantly, if you can afford not to! Agree on an employment contract and performance plan, schedule orientation and training, select an office location, etc.
  • File for 501 (C)  tax exempt status with the federal Internal Revenue Service.
  • Develop job descriptions for board members, officers, committee chairs and staff.
  • Recruit and educate your committees, use slide and video shows and give them appropriate information to read in small doses.
  • Schedule “downtown walkarounds” with your board and committee members. Get to know every square inch and what is good or bad.
  • Work with the board and committees to set up regular meeting schedules.
  • Set up meetings with stakeholders and partners including:
    • all downtown business and property owners;
    • local elected officials, city manager and department heads;
    • leaders from financial institutions, industry and utilities;
    • Chamber of Commerce board and staff;
    • other important community groups (historical, tourism, arts and cultural, etc.) and set up presentations to their membership if desired; and
    • the media.
  • Have a reception to introduce the program and board members to the community.
  • Have the board develop a workplan that includes your vision for downtown, the organization’s mission and prioritized annual activities assigned to committees with timeframes, individuals assigned to implementation and budget allocations.
  • Draw up a budget and have it correspond to the workplan. Set up financial control systems.
  • Develop a fundraising plan, including a list of potential supporters.
  • Solicit volunteers for key projects, create a volunteer file and develop a volunteer recognition system.
  • Select public relations tools to get the word out such as brochures, newsletters and newspaper columns.
  • Develop a media list for mailing press releases.
  • Begin to build a clearinghouse of resource material. Collect and read anything pertinent, such as community plans, studies, newspaper articles, promotional brochures, previous meeting minutes, ordinances, newsletters, etc. Order necessary periodicals. Start a file system and scrapbook for the organization.
  • Identify economic development resources and recent or proposed projects.
  • Identify historic preservation resources and recent or proposed projects.
  • Review the existing promotions calendar, and collect information on past promotional events.
  • Do an inventory of downtown including buildings, businesses, parking, etc. Include photographs.
  • Develop a network with other Main Street managers.  Ask questions and get info on their programs.
  • Join the National Main Street Network and the Virginia Downtown Development Association, circulate their newsletters and encourage board members, committee members and staff to attend their conferences.
  • Apply to become a DHCD Virginia Main Street Commercial District Affiliate.

Share this list with your downtown stakeholders by printing an Adobe Acrobat .pdf version of this list here.