EDA Backs Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative

EDA provides $7,000 now, promises $35,000 for FY2014.

The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority approved a cash allocation of $7,000 to fund application costs for the city to become a Designated Virginia Main Street Community.

The money was included in a letter of intent for an additional $35,000 in FY2014 to support the program.

Wilson Greenlaw Jr., a commercial real estate agent and member of the Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative’s formation committee, told the EDA the letter of intent was required as part of the application to Virginia's Main Street Program. The application is due March 1.

Several EDA members expressed concern about how the $35,000 will be used, and asked the support letter include a statement requiring budget details. "We want you to come back and give a clearer picture of how the $35,000 will be spent," Steve D'Lugos, EDA board member, said.

Greenlaw also announced the group is now official as The Fredericksburg Main Street Initiative LLC (FMSI). The seven-member formation committee has written a business plan and are in the process of applying for 501(c)3 nonprofit status. 

Their first year budget plan is for about $140,000; $35,000 to come from the EDA; $70,000 to come from the city, and the balance to come from FMSI. "We want to produce about a third of our budget monies, with the EDA and city providing the other two-thirds," Greenlaw said.  However, he said the group would work toward becoming more self-sufficient.

The $74,000 is already a placeholder in city’s FY2014 recommended budget, Karen Hedelt, director of Economic Development and Tourism, told the EDA. That budget is scheduled to be presented to City Council on March 12.

"Our goals moving forward are raising funds," Scarlett Pons, co-owner of Ponsop Art Studio and Gallery and member of the formation committee, said. Pons said the group has the support of about 25 percent of the downtown businesses and more than 55 letters of support.

EDA board member Bob Carter voted against the cash advance and letter of intent because he does not like how the group's funding is planned. "I do not like their three-fourths and two-thirds … I believe it's the wrong model and I'm vehemently against it and I don't think it's right," he said.

Greenlaw and Pons told the EDA they plan to solicit for an executive director beginning about April 1, and hope to have a person in place by the beginning of June. May 1 is their target date for opening an office.

Several EDA members expressed concern the committee has set dates but does not have details, including what length of contract an executive director would be offered and how the group would transition from a formation committee to an organizational board. "I want to know exactly how that transition will take place," Joe R. Wilson, EDA board member, said.

The decision on official designation is expected in June. If approved, Fredericksburg would join some 25 other Virginia communities in the program, including Culpeper, Manassas, Orange and Warrenton.

The city is already an affiliate program, and could hire an executive director even if they are denied official designation this year. "There is precedent to have a director running an affiliate member," Richard Tremblay, assistant director for Economic Development and EDA assistant secretary, said. Affiliate programs do not receive benefits afforded designated members. 

"We want to bring different entities around one common cause," Pons said. Greenlaw said he saw no reason why Fredericksburg wouldn't be granted the official designation this year.

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Related Stories:

Real Fredericksburg Forms Board of Directors (July 6, 2012)

Main Street Meeting Set (July 25, 2011)

Main Street Coming to Caroline Street? (Jan. 7, 2011)

HOKIENERD February 13, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Maybe just a few more details are in order (considering it involves $70,000 of taxpayer money). For example, the Designated Virginia Main Street Community link referenced above states that applications for becoming a Designated Virginia Main Street Community are not even being accepted... "As resources allow, Virginia Main Street holds a competitive application period for historic commercial districts who wish to become Designated Virginia Main Street Communities. While VMS is not accepting applications at this time, VMS is always looking to work with any historic commercial district, regardless of their size and location."


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