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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Fredericksburg EDA to get update on Main Street

Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority on Monday will get an update on the city’s efforts to join Virginia’s Main Street program.

Scarlett Suhy-Pons, who owns the Ponshop Art Studio and Gallery in downtown Fredericksburg with her husband, will brief the EDA on Monday morning about where things stand with the Main Street program. Suhy-Pons and fellow downtown business owner Paul Cymrot are co-chairing a formation committee tasked with getting the ball rolling on the Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative.

More than 20 Virginia towns and cities participate in the state’s Main Street program, which strives to create and promote thriving downtown business districts.

Discussions have been ongoing for the past couple of years about whether Fredericksburg should join the program, and, if so, how it should be funded. Some downtown business and property owners have balked at the possibility of higher taxes being levied within the central business district to help fund the program.

It’s also been envisioned that Fredericksburg’s City Council and EDA would pay for some of the costs, perhaps a higher percentage at first when the program was first getting started. The Main Street organization received $30,000 in this year’s city budget, but to date the organization has not requested or received any of the allocation.

The organization is expected to request funding from the EDA and city budget for the 2014 fiscal year, but exact amounts are unclear.

The formation committee has been in the process of creating bylaws, incorporating as a legal entity, filing for not-for-profit status, developing a business plan and applying for Virginia Main Street designation, said Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Director Karen Hedelt. The plan eventually calls for a full-time director to be hired to oversee the program.