Agencies work together for businesses

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FRANKLIN—Business owners in Franklin and the surrounding area are digging in and seeing what needs to be done to stay viable in this economy, according to Dan Howe, manager of the Downtown Franklin Association.

And the DFA, along with Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. and the Franklin Business Incubator are working together to make sure that happens.

“We do a lot of things together,” Howe said. “It’s a good partnership.”

More than 50 people attended the most recent Downtown Franklin Business and Property Owners meeting.

“It was the best-attended business and property owners meeting to date,” said Howe.

Jeff Sadler, program manager for Virginia Main Street — which is operated through the state Department of Housing and Community Development — spoke during the meeting.

Sadler, who told participants about the Main Street program, has worked with communities that have lost their largest employers, including Martinsville and Danville.

“It was more so to keep people thinking,” Howe said. “It’s about creating a new image. We feel like the Main Street approach can help.”

Howe said the practice can go beyond Main Street.

“When we say ‘downtown,’ we’re talking about Franklin,” he said. “We’re all in it together. We’re going to sink or swim together.”

Howe said part of the plan includes workshops, seminars, one-on-one consulting and information about micro-lending programs.

The workshops, which have typically been held once a quarter, will likely begin next month and continue every month or so, Howe said.

“We need to keep people engaged,” he said.

The seminars are free to anyone in the community.

“The focus on this is going to be keeping existing businesses in business and putting other people in our community to work,” he said.

He added that all four agencies are always open to suggestions.

“We could use ideas from the community,” he said.