Collaboration can brighten our future

Published 7:51 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

When Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring was in downtown Franklin early Wednesday, she came to praise Western Tidewater. She did so with good reason. Just this past year alone, the partnerships between the city of Franklin and Southampton County have yielded significant growth through upcoming business expansions.

Belmont Peanuts ($2.5M), Hampton Farms ($5.7M) and Enviva Partners ($75.7M) each declared in 2018 they were continuing to make the region their business home, and would invest the estimated amounts to make their growth possible. Note that all are connected to either agriculture and forestry, two industries in which Western Tidewater is very wealthy.

Much of the credit for the expansions, we think, goes to Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., formerly led by now Franklin city manager Amanda Jarratt. She and her staff more than earned their pay through cultivating the cooperative spirit and arranging what was necessary for the companies. We should also point out that partnership between FSEDI and the Downtown Franklin Association resulted in the second StartUp program. This enabled the creation of three new businesses downtown. Both organizations are already at work on the third event.

Kudos also to the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce for whenever that agency helps to facilitate such partnerships.

We join with the secretary in encouraging both localities to continue working together in bringing about more such economic growth. To paraphrase something that Ring said, that can continue to brighten our future.