Since late 2018, the Giles County Tourism Office and the New River Valley Regional Commission have been working to implement a Virginia Main Street Commercial District Affiliate grant on behalf of the Town of Narrows. The goal of the $7,000 grant is to coordinate the ‘Main Street’ development efforts of towns in the New River Valley by launching a modified New River Valley version of the successful ‘Hometowns of the Clinch’ model that towns along the Clinch River have developed to help their communities. As in the Clinch River region, the project helps community and business leaders in each town to identify what their town can do to make their downtown more attractive and accessible to visitors enjoying Giles County outdoor recreation amenities, and coordinate resources to help the businesses in the downtown district to become more successful. (More info on Hometowns of the Clinch at: http://www.clinchriverva.com/clinch-river-communities/hometowns-of-the-clinch-designation/ ).
Since January, Will Jones, a recent graduate of the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, has provided staff support to develop the ‘Communities of the New’ initiative. Will has been working with town managers in Giles County to guide the development of the program and has helped to launch several pilot projects that will become part of the implementation ‘toolkit’ for his successor (Friends of Southwest Virginia is planning to assign an AmeriCorps position to take over for Will later this summer).
Will’s efforts include completing assessments of downtown business districts and tourist amenities in each town to help identify and prioritize needed development projects, compiling information on training and resources towns can use to advance their development strategies, refining town-specific informational brochures on resources available to businesses looking to locate in each town, compiling information for a vacant property database for prospective businesses looking to locate in Giles County, and assisting in the development of a Giles County business plan competition.
For more information about the Virginia Main Street program, please visit: https://virginiamainstreet.com/ . For more information about the VMS grant project in Narrows, contact Patrick O’Brien, [email protected].