Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
FREDERICKSBURG: Main Street creates a vision statement
The Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative’s goal is for people entering downtown Fredericksburg in 2025 to realize “that it’s an honest-to-goodness community.”
That’s the opening of the organization’s newly approved vision statement, its first big-picture endeavor.
“People actually live here, they know each other, and they have worked together for generations to bring out the best in this place,” it continues. “People have been calling Fredericksburg their home for over 300 years, and the remarkable thing is how seamlessly this history has been blended into contemporary life on the banks of the Rappahannock.”
The Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative is a nonprofit organization formed to preserve, enhance and promote historical downtown. Its vision statement, and the projects soon to come out of it, are how Main Street director Ann Glave, board president and Ponshop co-owner Scarlett Pons and the host of other volunteers involved hope to create a community downtown out of splinter groups that rarely interact.
Ideas for projects are bounced off the statement to judge relevance to Main Street’s Fredericksburg mission.
Fredericksburg was designated as a “National Main Street” in June 2013 and since then about 90 community members have come together to create the vision.
The Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative is also affiliated with the Virginia Main Street Center, and qualifies for a three-year package of training and assistance to help the community revitalize itself.
Next up are initiatives to finish in the next two to 18 months including: branding downtown, ramping up beautification efforts with flower pots and trees, collaborating with arts and historical organizations, a gift card project to promote spending downtown, education for existing businesses and creating a mission statement and a comprehensive marketing program.
The organization was given a $12,000 grant in June by Virginia Main Street to support the branding initiative. Glave is also working on securing a $38,000 matching grant from Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority.
Those funds would go to support hiring someone to market the organization and to hold focus groups with members of the community.
“I hope this strengthens the business community and draws those that compliment the architecture of downtown,” she said. “That architectural fabric is why we came here in the first place.”
The work is carried out by four committees: economic restructuring, organization, design and promotions.
The committees are staffed by volunteers and chaired by Wilson Greenlaw, Jeff Scott, Andi Gabler and David Minckler, respectively.
Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw said the statement “captures the spirit of Fredericksburg and the enthusiasm of its residents. Our living history provides us with a sense of place that is unique. We are fortunate to be able to enjoy the amenities of the 21st century with the ambience of a small town.”
Building a community takes time, though, and Glave and Pons are hoping that over the next eight to 10 years they can bring downtown stakeholders together to support existing businesses and draw in new ones that complement what is already offered and add to the historic fabric of the city.
Glave said to create sustainable growth, especially with an entirely volunteer-based board, small, incremental changes will take place over time.
Pons said in order to create a growing downtown community for business and tourism, the organization needs to be a strong advocate for change that enhances its historic fabric.
“The goal really is to make Fredericksburg a place where you live, work and play,” Glave said.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976
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