Downtown businesses focus of program

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FRANKLIN—The city will welcome small town enthusiasts from around the state this week for the Virginia Main Street Summer Toolkit, an event for entrepreneurs looking to give a boost to their downtowns.

The toolkit, a series of seminars hosted by Virginia Main Street and the Downtown Franklin Association, will be held Thursday, July 22, and Friday, July 23, at Franklin Baptist Church, 208 N. High St.

“It’s a great opportunity to show our city off to the rest of the state,” Franklin Mayor Jim Councill said Monday. “It’s also a great opportunity to interact with other people and be the host for a change. We’ve got a lot to be really proud of. I’m excited for them to come and to have the workshops here.”

Thursday’s workshops will include discussions on downtown business recruitment and retention, thinking and acting like a developer, an analysis of downtown entrepreneurship, and cultivating and visualizing a downtown marketplace.

A tour of the Franklin Business Incubator will also be an option at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Dan Howe, downtown manager for the DFA, said organizers are expecting about 75 people from the 23 Main Street communities in the state and towns affiliated with the program, such as Boykins.

“It’s all about networking,” Howe said. “We try to learn what works in each community. While our guests are here, it’s a good time for us to showcase Franklin. These are Main Street people, so they like small towns, shopping in smaller communities, and they know what it’s like to survive in an economy like we have.”

The Virginia Main Street Program is managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Franklin is one of three charter member communities, along with Bedford and Winchester, whose membership dates to 1985.

The other Virginia Main Street communities are Abingdon, Alta Vista, Berryville, Blackstone, Culpeper, Harrisonburg, Luray, Lynchburg, Manassas, Marion, Martinsville, Orange, Radford, Rocky Mount, South Boston, Staunton, Warrenton and Waynesboro.

“I think it’s really nice that we’ll be able to dress ourselves up and host people,” Councill said. “We are a good poster child for Virginia Main Street.”