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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 provides support to Main Street initiative

Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority on Monday lent financial support to an effort to make the city part of Virginia’s Main Street program.

The EDA agreed to provide about $7,000 to the Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative to help with startup costs. The EDA also signaled its intent to provide $35,000 to the organization in the fiscal year starting July 1.

Wilson Greenlaw Jr., a commercial Realtor and member of the Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative’s formation committee, briefed the EDA on Monday regarding where things stand now.

The seven-member committee has been writing a business plan, talking to downtown merchants, forming a limited liability company and working on applications for not-for-profit status and full inclusion in the state’s Main Street program. The latter application is due March 1.

About 25 communities are part of the state’s Main Street program, which aims to create thriving central business districts. Among the participants are Culpeper, Orange, Warrenton and Manassas. Fredericksburg hopes to be in the program and have hired a full-time executive director by June.

Greenlaw said the organization, which is a separate legal entity from the city or its EDA, anticipates having a $148,000 budget the first year. About $74,000 has been earmarked in the city’s fiscal 2014 budget for the program, though the budget hasn’t been finalized.

That means about 74 percent of the local Main Street budget could come from EDA and city budget funds the first year. Remaining funds would come through events, fundraising, grants and other sources.

EDA member Bob Carter voted against providing the startup funds and pledging the $35,000 for next fiscal year, saying he doesn’t like the model of  the EDA and city taxpayers providing such a large percentage of Main Street’s budget.

Over time, Greenlaw said, Main Street is intended to become more self-sufficient, with public dollars making up a smaller percentage of the overall pie.

Initial funding plans for the Main Street program called for a special tax district on downtown properties to make up a large part of the budget, but many downtown building owners and merchants balked at that.

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