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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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EDA pledges $10,000 to local children’s museum

The Children’s Museum of Richmond is $10,000 closer to opening its Fredericksburg branch.

Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority on Monday voted to give CMoR a $10,000 grant toward the costs of opening a branch in the city.

CMoR must sign a five-year lease in Fredericksburg to get the funds. Fredericksburg Economic Development Director Karen Hedelt said she is confident a lease will be signed, though it hasn’t been yet.

CMoR has said it is looking for a 12,000-square-foot space in the city but hasn’t disclosed where. The organization, which runs three Richmond-area branches, wants to open in Fredericksburg this coming April.

CMoR needs to raise about $620,000 to open its local branch, according to its grant application. The organization has received a financial commitment from a Fredericksburg-area resident for a lead fundraising gift in the six figures, as well as several other significant financial pledges from area residents, said CMoR President and CEO Karen Coltrane.

The EDA grant will help CMoR with “build out expenses to help outfit” an “older building” in the city, according to the grant application.

A feasibility study that CMoR conducted earlier this year showed that “Fredericksburg is in need of a children’s museum” and would both benefit from and take pride in the facility, according to the grant application. The museum anticipates more than 140,000 visitors annually at the Fredericksburg branch.

The branch will be open 361 days a year from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full-time manager and multiple part-time employees including educators, sales associates and “birthday buddies” will be hired.

The local branch will contain “hands-on exhibits that inspire exploration and learning” for children ages 8 and under, according to the grant application. Like other CMoR locations, it will include an art studio, science exhibits, classrooms, a performing arts stage and a “Town Square” to inspire pretend play.

The EDA on Monday decided not to make a separate, $3,000 grant to help cover the costs of a Jan. 11 planned fundraising event for CMoR called “Twilight Carniball” at the Jepson Alumni Executive Center in Fredericksburg. Several EDA members worried that supporting a fundraising event, rather than one that specifically brings visitors to the city, would set a bad precedent.

On Monday, the EDA also approved three other grants:

  • $8,000 to the local disAbility Resource Center for improvements to a building at 1501 Princess Anne St. that the organization bought last year from Rappahannock Goodwill Industries.
  • $2,380 toward several downtown art-focused programs and events put on by Fredericksburg’s Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Department.
  • $475 for a “Civil War Drummer Boy” mural on a wall facing public parking at 909 Sophia St.