Monthly Archives: June 2014

Governor McAuliffe announces more than $8.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funding

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced more than $8.5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for 13 projects in Virginia.

“The Community Development Block Grant program is a long-standing program that provides necessary resources to our localities to improve their communities,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “From sewer projects to downtown revitalization and housing rehabilitation, these projects are improving the lives of Virginians across the Commonwealth.”

Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program. CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process. Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons, and many projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of slums and blighting conditions.

Five of the projects are noted as multi-year funding projects. Multi-year funding projects are those that will receive a contract allocating a portion of the funds this year, and after achieving specific performance targets, the project will then be eligible for additional funding. One additional project is receiving a letter of intent, indication the project is worthy of funding but lacks key components necessary for the project to be immediately implemented. This allows the locality to address the missing key component by spring 2015.

“This competitive program allows Virginia to address major community issues and utilize available resources to make our communities great places to live, work and do business,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.

2014 CDBG Competitive Grant Awards:

Locality Project Name CDBG Award
City of Martinsville Northside Comprehensive Community Development $   934,904
Town of South Hill West Main Street Project, Phase II
Multi-Year Funding
$   600,000
Wise County Roda, Osaka and Stonega Sewer, Phase I $   1,000,000
Buchanan County Hurley Regional Water Project, Phase V
Letter of Intent
$  700,000
Town of Appalachia Exeter Water Line Replacement, Phase II $   485,626
Grayson County Nuckolls Curve Water Project $   259,755
Town of Crewe Lipscomb and Stratton Streets Neighborhood Revitalization Project
Multi-Year Funding
$   700,000

 

Town of Clifton Forge Lower Roxbury Neighborhood Revitalization
Multi-Year Funding
$   600,000
Mecklenburg County Lambert Road Housing Rehabilitation
Multi-Year Funding
$   500,000
Town of Colonial Beach Colonial Beach Downtown Revitalization $   747,000
Greensville County Washington Park Community Development, Phase V
Multi-Year Funding
$   500,000
Town of Troutdale Troutdale Housing Rehabilitation Project $   688,430
Town of Cleveland Cleveland Town-wide Revitalization Project $   799,880
  Total Recommended $   8,515,595
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Business Appreciation Month celebrates our businesses

BAM-Logo-final-2At DHCD, we are very fortunate to work with communities and businesses across the state. In recognition of Business Appreciation Month, we have compiled a list of exceptional businesses that have made a difference in our communities across the state. Enjoy these great stories about how businesses empower communities.

  • Located in Gloucester, Yolanda’s is a women’s apparel shop that specializes in distinctive clothing, accessories and jewelry that can be worn at work and at leisure, clothing that will add both the essential and the imaginative to any wardrobe. Owner Yolanda Teschner believes in celebrating all women, and it is her ultimate goal to empower all women to feel beautiful both inside and out. She supports various women organizations in the community such as the Laurel Shelter, in which she recently participated in their annual fashion show. Teschner also serves as a role model for other local businesses after she helped renovate an older retail building with the help and support of the property’s owner and after taking advantage of some of the valuable business support services offered by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and the Gloucester Main Street Association.
  • Serendipity, a ladies’ clothing boutique, opened in downtown Bristol, Virginia in 2007, in the process restoring one of the downtown’s historic buildings. Since then, the business has grown in leaps and bounds, with another store opening in nearby Johnson City, Tennessee in 2011 and a sister store, Be.Ella, catering to curvy women, opening in downtown Bristol in 2014. Owner Sarah Hull has been integral to the community since opening by actively supporting Believe in Bristol, the downtown Main Street organization, along with a variety of other organizations and charity events. She is a wonderful ambassador for entrepreneurship and is a great example of how success in business can benefit the surrounding community.
  • Located in Arlington, Virginia, TechShop DC-Arlington is a community-based workshop and prototyping studio on a mission to democratize access to the tools of innovation.  TechShop is packed with cutting-edge tools, equipment and computers loaded with design software featuring the Autodesk Design Suite. Most importantly, TechShop offers the space to make, as well as the support and camaraderie of a community of makers.
  • Located in Wytheville, Petals of Wytheville opened in 2010 as a full service florist “incubated” in a gift shop in one of the downtown’s old commercial buildings. When the gift shop closed, owner Teresa King had to find a new location. She rented a vacant historic building  less than a half block from Main Street and worked with the building’s owner to renovate it.  Petals’ product line evolved from a strictly floral shop to unique gifts and ample varieties of specialty beers and wines.  Under King’s creative influence, this chic shop, with its monthly beer and wine tastings, has significantly increased shopping in Wytheville’s downtown. While expanding her successful business, King also is an active member on the management team overseeing the downtown’s $700,000-CDBG-funded business district revitalization project and serves on the board of Downtown Wytheville Inc., the town’s Main Street organization.
  • Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Ladybug Landscape provides holistic care, preservation and maintenance of lawns and gardens, conserving harmony with the surroundings while respecting the environment. Their gardeners use the latest techniques and practices so families can grow quality fruits and vegetables for the dinner table. The owner of Ladybug Landscape also volunteers with the Hispanic Entrepreneurship Program, where he received business-development assistance to start his own business. The Hispanic Entrepreneurship Program provides one-on-one small business development consulting and coursework to low- and mid-income Hispanic families living in Northern Virginia. The program aims to assist clients in overcoming barriers to launch and grow sustainable businesses that increase household incomes, create jobs and contribute to the local economy.
  • Located in Strasburg, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley Artworks showcases the work of more than 60 Virginia-based jewelers, potters, wood turners, metal artists, fabric artists, musicians and authors. The owner, Marcy McCann, bought her Federal-style building several years ago, the second oldest building in town, built in the 1820s.  She converted the first floor into Shenandoah Valley Artworks and transformed the second floor into a beautiful apartment where she lives.  She is a great proponent of developing first-floor commercial and upper-story residential to allow buildings in the historic commercial district to be used to their highest and best use and to help re-energize the downtown. To encourage more downtown living, McCann organized Everything Old is New Again, a Hometown Strasburg event that offered free tours of some of the coolest alternative living spaces in the heart of Strasburg.
  • Located in Portsmouth, Virginia, the Commodore Theatre had been closed for more than a decade when Fred Schoenfeld purchased the theater and began a two-and-a-half-year effort to restore the theater.  Schoenfeld re-opened The Commodore Theatre on December 21, 1989 as a first-run movie theater with full-service dining, the first such cinema-eatery in the United States. The luxuriously-restored 1945 art-deco-style motion picture theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. With its beautifully-restored marquee lighting up High Street, it is no wonder that The Commodore Theatre is a favorite destination for locals, visitors and boaters alike. It is not just the movie, it is the total experience.
  • Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Larkin Arts has created a community for the arts in the downtown.  A recipient of a loan through the Harrisonburg Business Loan Program, Larkin has created and energized the Harrisonburg community by working with the Old Furnace Artist Residency to offer a CSArts program (Community Supported Arts).  Prominently located on Court Square, Larkin has also been an integral part of community celebrations like Valley Fourth and Halloween on the Square.  In addition to juried art exhibits, Larkin has employed dozens of local artists to provide unique classes and workshop opportunities. Larkin represents a full-service art center, with gallery space, retail store, classrooms and artist studio space.
  • Changing Reins, an equestrian boutique in Ashland, Virginia, offers a complete line of high-end, gently-used equestrian equipment and apparel, as well as equestrian-themed accessories, gifts, home décor, art, jewelry and vintage/antique items. In business for six years, the owners, Dave and Anne Heflin, have built a loyal customer base that enjoys the experience of shopping in a small town with its relaxing atmosphere and authentic Main Street character.
  • Located in Bristol, Virginia, the Benjamin Walls Gallery showcases the landscape and wildlife photography of local photographer Benjamin Walls, and it draws local, national and international visitors and buyers. Walls restored a historic downtown building to house his gallery, along with three lofts and a rooftop deck, and he has won several local design awards for these efforts. He is an active member of Bristol’s Arts and Entertainment District’s community, hosting a variety of events and supporting local organizations and charities, including Believe in Bristol, Bristol’s Main Street organization. Walls’ energy and drive have made a real difference to the revitalization of downtown Bristol and has encouraged others to develop their own business ideas.
  • In 2009, two neighbors got together over some homemade chips, salsa and guacamole and decided to launch District Taco as a food truck. Based in Arlington, Virginia, District Taco now operates multiple locations in and around Washington D.C. With plenty of hungry customers looking for great food, District Taco owners have been happy to share their knowledge to run a successful food truck business with other local entrepreneurs.
  • Located in Wytheville, Sew Fabrics & Batiks, Etcetera is a destination quilt shop that has been doing business in downtown since 1982 in its restored, turn-of-the-century residence on Main Street. Sew What retails quilting supplies, specializing in Indonesian batiks, classes, sewing machines and local service. The shop attracts customers to the downtown from across the East Coast and as far away as Canada and has an online market, serving customers nationwide and worldwide. The owners, Marty and Carol Britt, also are active members on the management team overseeing the downtown’s $700,000-CDBG-funded business district revitalization project and serves on the board of Downtown Wytheville Inc., the town’s Main Street organization.
  • Located in Gloucester, the Courthouse Restaurant is a family-owned and operated restaurant that specializes in classic American food and serves breakfast all day. Owners Doug and Kim Hibbs are the perfect example of people dedicated to helping their community. In addition to offering free Thanksgiving dinner for the community every year, they also host numerous spaghetti dinner fundraisers throughout the year that support an array of causes including the Helping Hands Mission Camp, local Girl and Boy Scouts, youth athletics, Giving Garden Foundation and more.
  • Located in Ashland, The Caboose Wine and Cheese offers a variety of beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks complemented by a wide selection of gourmet food products. Established in September 1997 in historic downtown Ashland, the store chose its name from the trains that pass through the downtown’s Main Street area and serves as a defining feature of Ashland. The Caboose’s owner, Ian Kirkland, has been an active supporter of the Ashland Main Street Association and his weekly wine tasting events are among the signature events for the town.
  • Located in Arlington, Opower‘s mission is to help everyone, everywhere save energy.  Opower works with utilities and consumers to lower electricity usage and bills using behavioral economics. They do it by giving people personalized communications that display in simple, clear terms how their own energy usage compares with that of their neighbors. Everybody wins!

DHCD is proud to be a part of these communities, and we hope to continue to celebrate our businesses beyond this month! Thank you for all you do to help our communities be a great place to work, visit and live!

Governor McAuliffe Signs Agreement to Help End Veteran Homelessness

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed onto a national agreement aimed at ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

“This ambitious accord will require cooperation and leadership at all levels to complete such an important task,” McAuliffe said. “We are all guided by the same drive and desire to serve these men and women who have served their country.”

Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey made the announcement Monday at a statewide summit in Richmond sponsored by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.

“This endeavor clearly recognizes the status veterans have in the Commonwealth,” Harvey said. “They can be assured that they have advocates at the highest level of government in Virginia.”

The agreement, known as the Mayor’s Challenge, is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is being promoted by the National League of Cities through its Homeless Veteran Leadership Network. Originally envisioned as a means for city leaders to pull together and implement local strategies targeting veteran homeless, the agreement has also attracted commitments from chief executives of Colorado, Connecticut,Minnesota, Puerto Rico and now Virginia.

Monday’s summit drew homeless service providers, business leaders and state and local government officials, who met together to develop an action plan for addressing the specific needs of veterans and their families. The goal was to create a state plan that cultivates partnerships, identifies and secures new resources, and increases efficiencies in the delivery of services. The summit was a collaborative effort of the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and the Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council, and was funded by a grant from Dominion Resources.

The Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council, led by Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel and Commerce and Trade Secretary Maurice Jones, has embraced the veteran initiative as part of its overall effort to reduce homelessness in the Commonwealth. The group’s hard work is generating significant results. Homelessness in the Commonwealth has declined 7.9 percent in the last year, with a 10.8 percent decrease in family homelessness and a 14 percent decrease in veteran homelessness. Much of that progress can be attributed to bipartisan support for permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing solutions.

“One in every 10 Virginians is a veteran,” said Secretary Hazel. “They are our neighbors, friends, brothers, sisters, parents and children.”

“All Virginians should be concerned about veteran homelessness,” added Secretary Jones. “These brave men and women deserve the certainty and security of a place they can call home.”Nationally, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness established the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. About 58,000 veterans are homeless in the United States.

The initiative has attracted widespread interest. First Lady Michelle Obama announced her support last week.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Decrease in Homelessness

Overall homelessness decreases for another year in the Commonwealth

Governor McAuliffe announced today that overall homelessness in the Commonwealth has declined 7.9 percent in the last year, with a 10.8 percent decrease in family homelessness and 14 percent decrease in veterans homelessness, citing data collected by local Continuum of Care groups across Virginia and compiled by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

“Virginia is continuing to make strides in preventing and ending homelessness,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Commonwealth pledges to continue to collaborate with all partners in order to decrease homelessness and reduce the numbers of Virginia citizens who live without a home.”

The ongoing reduction in homelessness can be largely attributed to the shift in focusing resources to rapid re-housing, moving people into permanent housing more quickly while providing appropriate services through community resources. The collaborative efforts of many at the state and local levels, including those involved in the Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council, and working through private and public agencies and organizations, have provided the structure for this successful effort.

The Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council, co-chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones is comprised of state agencies, representatives from continua of care and nonprofit providers. The council is charged with implementing the five strategies identified in the Homeless Outcomes Advisory Committee Report and Recommendations. The council maintains the interagency leadership and governance structure that has helped to establish decreasing homelessness as a priority at all levels of state government. It also establishes formal points of contact within state agencies that are providing support or services to citizens who are homeless. Executive and cabinet-level leadership have been critical to the success of the plan so far, as has the willingness of localities to implement and advance best practices and innovative strategies.

“The Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council has been a leading force at combating homelessness in Virginia,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “We continue to evaluate our efforts and look for new strategies and resources to prevent and end homelessness in the commonwealth.”

The reductions in homelessness have resulted from shifting some state resources from traditional shelter services to rapid re-housing. Additional resources were provided in the FY2014 budget for rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing. Funding through the Freddie Mac Foundation, a partnership between the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness and the commonwealth, has also helped transform Virginia’s approach to more effectively address homelessness. This collaborative initiative, in its third year of funding, focuses on rapid re-housing for families and emphasizes the importance of local partnerships to achieve success.

“Virginia’s housing and homeless needs are a major focus for the state,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “By working together and utilizing all of our resources, we are making a difference and continuing to reduce the number of people in Virginia who are homeless.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces June as Business Appreciation Month

Governor McAuliffe today announced that June will be designated as Virginia’s Business Appreciation Month to ensure that the history and growth of Virginia businesses are recognized across the commonwealth.

See the proclamation below:

By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:

BUSINESS APPRECIATION MONTH

WHEREAS, Virginia businesses provide a wide array of products and services to customers throughout the world, and employ nearly 4 million people throughout the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, Virginia is currently home to more than 30 Fortune 1,000 firms and more than 70 firms with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion; and

WHEREAS, Virginia ranks among the top ten states best prepared—in knowledge, innovation and internet technology—to navigate the  demands of an increasingly globalized economy; and

WHEREAS, Virginia businesses employ a diverse, high-skilled workforce—including the largest concentration of high-tech workers in the country—and generate increased economic opportunity and well-being for all Virginians; and

WHEREAS, Business Appreciation Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the essential role our thriving business community plays in contributing to a stronger, more prosperous Commonwealth;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe do hereby recognize June 2014 as BUSINESS APPRECIATION MONTH in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.

Harrisonburg recognized as the 2014 Great American Main Street

– Harrisonburg is a designated Virginia Main Street community –

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development is proud to announce that downtown Harrisonburg has been selected as the 2014 Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA) winner, which was announced at the 2014 National Main Streets Conference in Detroit this week. The GAMSA is the nation’s premier accolade for downtown revitalization achievement.

Harrisonburg is a designated Virginia Main Street Community. Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR), the Main Street organization, has led a remarkable transformation of the downtown district by increasing the number of downtown housing units, redeveloping and repurposing historic buildings, providing incentives for small businesses and entrepreneurs and setting itself as a tourism destination for its culinary samplings, as well as recreational offerings.

“We are very proud to have a Virginia Main Street Community recognized as the 2014 Great American Main Street,” said Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. “Harrisonburg has utilized strong partnership, creativity and all available resources to create a business-friendly downtown district that has made it a great place to work, live and play.”

Downtown Harrisonburg boasts a low vacancy rate of 3.5 percent, an increase in real estate value to more than half a billion dollars and an increase in tax revenue, approaching $2 million. Its strong partnership with the city of Harrisonburg and James Madison University and the ongoing support of sustainability initiatives make downtown Harrisonburg a hub for entrepreneurs and attractive to downtown residents.

“Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is honored to have our revitalization success recognized at the national level,” says Eddie Bumbaugh, executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “The GAMSA award is a testament to the work of our organization, city government and community members, and we believe this announcement will build momentum for future projects, events and success.”

The other two 2014 winners are Milledgeville, Ga. and Woodbine, Iowa. Winners were elected by a national jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals and governmental agency representatives who are active in community revitalization and historic preservation.

Harrisonburg was designated a Virginia Main Street Community in 2004. Three other Virginia Main Street communities have been named Great American Main Street winners including: Culpeper in 2012, Lynchburg in 2006 and Manassas in 2003.

The Virginia Main Street program provides assistance and training to help communities increase the economic vitality of their downtown commercial districts. Virginia Main Street uses the National Main Street model to help communities revitalize their downtowns by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes. The program helps communities implement a comprehensive revitalization strategy that creates economic growth and pride in downtowns.
For more information about the Virginia Main Street program, visit www.dhcd.virginia.gov/MainStreet.