Edinburg hoping for economic growth in 2015

With its budget for the 2016 fiscal year in place, Edinburg Town Mayor Daniel Harshman indicated that the town is hoping for a strong year, economically speaking.

The town’s approved budget includes a general fund of $813,833 and an enterprise fund of $563,600. Harshman noted that the budget includes no fee or tax increases for its residents.

“We’re slowly starting to see the economy pick up around here, and hopefully it’ll continue,” Harshman said.

Looking ahead, Harshman noted, “We’re just starting the process with a planning grant through [the Virginia Department of Housing and Commercial Development].”

The grant application the town applied for totaled $35,000, and Harshman said they were awarded $5,000 of that for planning at the end of May.

With the grant, Harshman explained the town is looking to “help economic growth and businesses, trying to get some of our vacant buildings back into income-producing buildings.”

Per the requirements of the department’s grant, the town will be holding a public hearing as well as meetings with state and county officials on potential developments within the town.

Harshman said the goal with the public hearing is to gather ideas from residents, town businesses and area officials on what might work for Edinburg.

“We don’t really have a commercial district to speak of,” he said, “Our main street’s a mix — housing, commercial, and then we actually have a number of commercial buildings on our back streets.”

With the back street buildings, Harshman said they are vacant in a lot of cases. “It’s going to have to be fairly creative as to how we bring stuff into town.”

In addition, Harshman said they were required to form a management team that he described as a “cross section of town and county government.”

This team includes, among many others, Edinburg town officials, the Shenandoah County administrator, a representative of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce and officials from the Virginia Department of transportation.

This management team will be meeting in the next month to have a visioning session for the development in Edinburg.

The town has to complete everything from the planning sessions to the public hearing and business inventory by July 17, according to Harshman.

“It’s been a little overwhelming so far, just because of that quick turnaround in trying to get people lined-up to attend the meetings and get things scheduled,” Harshman noted.

He added, “Hopefully, once we get over this hurdle, the process will slow down a little bit … and we’re going to have a better feel what’s going to need to be done, too, after these initial meetings.”

And while the town only has the planning grant to start off with, Harshman added that the hope is that it will lead to more funding opportunities from the department.

Another part of the planning grant, Harshman explained, is putting together a request for proposal to seek a firm to assist the town with the next phase of the process.

The public hearing is slated for 6 p.m. June 25 at the Edinburg Town Hall.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com