Franklin, Southampton County are ‘Partners In Progress’

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

by Amanda Jarratt

The Second Annual Partners in Progress event was another success for the City of Franklin and Southampton County. Attendance was outstanding and the feedback from the keynote’s address was positive all around.

For those who were able to attend this year’s event, thank you for joining us and we hope to see you again next year. For those who were unable to make the event, I wanted to provide you with a brief summary of the keynote’s address and explain why they are relevant to our situation in Franklin Southampton.

This year we were pleased to have the Hon. Maurice Jones, secretary of Commerce and Trade, as our keynote speaker. During his address, Jones noted five key areas that our community needs to focus on to prepare for the future. Those five key areas include: infrastructure, strategic advantages, entrepreneurship, climate and education. We are optimistic that Franklin-Southampton can make positive forward change to help prepare us for growth and expansion.

The first key area, infrastructure, could not be more in line with what our economic development office stresses day in and day out — we need pad-ready sites for businesses to locate when starting or expanding their businesses. The importance of having these sites in a “move in ready” state not only makes our area more attractive for business, but it also speeds up the timeline for such opportunities to take place. In addition, Secretary Jones addressed the concept of mega sites, large tracts of land designated for development. As we have discussed extensively in prior publication our largest continuous tract available is 80 acres in size at the Southampton Commerce and Logistics Center. For industry of all size and scale, larger land tracts are critical. We are unable to compete for project after project due to lack of land.

Secondly, we should continue to place a large emphasis on the strategic advantages that come with living in or doing business in the Franklin-Southampton area. From the access we have to central transportation corridors to our close proximity to the Port of Virginia, Franklin-Southampton has great strategic advantages that we must continue to promote.

The third key area of focus, entrepreneurship is a focus area that Franklin-Southampton has been investing time and effort into for over ten years. The Franklin Business Incubator facility and the resources offered through this program are unlike anything else in our region and we must continue to spread the word about this facility across the entire region, state and Mid-Atlantic.

Climate, the fourth key area, is another major focus of economic development. We must all as a community at large announce that Franklin-Southampton is OPEN for business! Our climate and the way we treat business people and industry is what says if we are indeed open for business or not. There is never an issue with expressing an opinion or asking good questions, but the manner in which it is done signals whether or not we truly want new business opportunities. We say we want new and expanding businesses to locate here and become a part of our community, but we must always ensure we are exuding a climate that reflects such expectation.

Lastly, the fifth key element of focus for Franklin-Southampton is workforce development. It is imperative that our area have a talented, prepared, experienced citizens, and it is up to our community leaders to help make this workforce need a reality.

As Secretary Jones stressed, we each have a role to play in making sure or community is able to grow and thrive. We cannot just walk the walk but we must also talk the talk. It is imperative that we make the investments required to actively take part in the anticipated growth of Virginia. Be informed, ask good questions, try to encourage positive change and Franklin-Southampton will reap the benefits of having a strong, informed community who is open and ready for business!

Amanda Jarratt is the CEO and president of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. She can be reached at or 562-1958.