Farmville Downtown Partnership Awards $5000 At SOUP Event

Often times, it doesn’t take a lot of funding to spark community energy. Read about Farmville Downtown Partnership‘s SOUP event and become inspired to host your own similar event. Guest blogger, John Burton, executive director for the Farmville Downtown Partnership, describes how this inaugural event was very successful for the small community.


SOUP presentations held at the Longwood Center for Visual Arts

Good community, good music and good food. These are the ingredients Farmville Downtown Partnership (FDP) brought together at their Inaugural Supporting Outstanding Urban Projects (SOUP) Community Dinner Event on April 1.  SOUP is an event originating in Detroit and designed to engage the community by awarding grant money for the improvement of downtown.  For months before the dinner event,  FDP had been using social media and local service organizations to call for any individual or organization to submit proposals for projects to improve downtown Farmville.

The selection committee was thrilled to find that a total of 20 proposals had been submitted. After making some tough decisions, they were able to agree on the top five that were the most realistic, beneficial to downtown and new or unique ideas. These would be voted on at the dinner event.

Longwood University, which is adjacent to downtown Farmville, agreed to donate a 4:1 match to the event for a total amount of $5,000 to be distrubted.

Several elements came together to make the dinner event go off without a hitch.  Longwood’s Center for the Visual Arts, located in downtown Farmville, provided a perfect location to hold the event, and the current display of local children’s artwork added a special touch. Aramark donated delicious tomato basil soup and chicken gumbo, and a local musician cranked up the amp and kept everyone’s toes tapping.

Farmville SOUP winners

Actual soup was consumed, and the top five proposals were presented and voted on by everyone in attendance. At the end of the night, the grants were awarded. Those included $2,500 for increasing bicycle parking downtown, $1,500 to purchase and paint community-use bistro tables and chairs and $1,000 to build a mobile reading cart.

Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, the Farmville Downtown Partnership was able to engage the local community, discover new projects for future work plans and connect with new interested volunteers.

Save the Date! Virginia Main Street Downtown Intersections 2016

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date

VMS Downtown Intersections 2016 Save the Date

Virginia Main Street Grant Opportunities

VMS-logo-colorVirginia Main Street is currently accepting grant applications for FY 2017. Grants are available only to designated VMS communities and must be administered through the designated local VMS organization.

Downtown Investment Grants (DIGs) allow Main Street organizations to take on unique, one-time projects that measurably, creatively and sustainably advance the organization’s goals and strategies.

FY 2017 DIGs are available in two categories:

Design: Projects that will visually enhance the Main Street District. These may include wayfinding systems, street furnishings, façade improvements or other unique aesthetic enhancement projects.

Economic Vitality: Projects that will contribute to the revitalization activity in or near your Main Street District. These projects may include an innovative economic revitalization idea with implementation plan, new independent businesses that create new full time jobs in your Main Street district or other exciting projects that result in positive job creation and fulfills an economic vitality goal from your organization’s current work plan.

The last day DIG applications will be accepted is May 2, 2016. For more information about DIG, click here.

Financial Feasibility grants allow Main Street organizations to work with owners of significant “white elephant” buildings or those with non-productive upper floor space. The purpose is to identify the highest and best use of such properties and to develop sufficient information to allow the owner or Main Street organization to “shop” the rehabilitation and reuse of the property to private developers and investors.

Financial feasibility grants are being accepted on an ongoing basis until funding is exhausted. You can get more information about the grants here.

Check out some great spring festivals in Virginia Main Streets

Spring has sprung! Are you ready to shake off the winter blues and enjoy downtown? Check out some of the exciting downtown festivals happening in a Main Street community near you:

Winchester: Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival – April 22-May 1

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, Winchester

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, Winchester

Culpeper: Gnarly Hops and Barley Fest – April 30

Harrisonburg: Rocktown Beer and Music Festival – April 30

Waynesboro: Waynesboro Riverfest – April 30

Farmville: Heart of Virginia Festival – May 7

Lynchburg: Lynchburg Music Festival – May 14

For more information and to see all the Spring Festivals in Virginia, visit

Community blight has a cost and DHCD has a solution

In February, Governor McAuliffe announced award winners for DHCD’s Industrial Revitalization Fund for fiscal year 2016. Of those, three were Virginia Main Street Communities: the towns of Bedford and Warrenton and the city of Lynchburg. The IRF program can help rehabilitate derelict structures into economically viable uses again. The Center for Community Progress also posted an article about the “cost of blight” to a community. In that article, they look at some of Atlanta’s problem properties and what it cost the city in terms of additional police, fire and code enforcement, as well as lost property values.  It is critically important to any community to try and revitalize these properties.

Historic Masonic Theatre under construction with IRF funds in Clifton Forge, VA

Historic Masonic Theatre under construction with IRF funds in Clifton Forge, Virginia

If your community has a blighted structure and plans for its redevelopment, DHCD is once again opening   the IRF program for FY 2017. For more information on the program and to get details on upcoming how-to-apply workshops, visit . The application deadline is May 19, 2016.

If you have a specific project you would like to discuss, contact Jeff Sadler at (804) 371-7069 or

Virginia Main Street designates four new communties

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the designation of four communities in the Virginia Main Street (VMS) program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The newly-designated communities include the town of Wytheville, the cities of Danville and Lexington and Gloucester Courthouse in Gloucester County.  The communities were selected based on their Main Street organization’s preparedness to identify, plan and implement programs and services for the defined downtown district, the target area of responsibility.

By leveraging our downtown assets and spurring public and private investments in these communities, we are sparking entrepreneurship and job creation in the heart of the Commonwealth and making strides in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.” — Governor Terry McAuliffe

To read the full press release, click here. For more information about the Virginia Main Street program, visit


Local foods revitalize downtowns

Inspirational downtown revitalization stories are happening all over the country. The article linked here describes how a small town in Kentucky was able to use a local food movement to bring new business into their struggling Main Street area. The program that they used was through EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places initiative and partners with other federal agencies.

Bringing people back downtown to live, work and play is key. To do that you need places to eat, places to shop.” — Patty Cantrell

Picture3For planning in your downtown district, check out the Virginia Department of Consumer and Agriculture Services for potential planning funds. Do you have a favorite Virginia town that is using local food to revitalize their downtown? We would love to hear your success stories, so email them to us at






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