WINCHESTER — Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County are in the process of forming a regional coalition to strengthen the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s ability to attract new businesses.
Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said the idea arose from discussions with Patrick Barker, who is executive director of Frederick County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA).
“Virginia Economic Development Partnership recognizes regional groups,” Hershberger said at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Winchester EDA. “They have, in the past year, started setting up site consultant events in Richmond and throughout the commonwealth.”
The only way to take advantage of those resources from the state-sponsored organization, Hershberger said, is to be part of a regional economic development group. Creating the Economic Coalition of the Northern Shenandoah Valley would allow the local EDAs to fully utilize the Virginia Economic Development Partnership resources and give the region greater insight when targeting companies looking to expand or relocate.
The coalition’s board of directors would include the directors and chairs of the EDAs in all three participating localities. None of the EDAs would be responsible for contributing money to the coalition, Hershberger said, unless the individual authorities choose to fund activities on a case-by-case basis.
The coalition would meet just once a year, on the second Tuesday of September. Additional meetings could be scheduled if board members deem it necessary.
Hershberger said Frederick County has already approved its participation in the coalition, and Clarke County is expected to follow suit next month.
The Winchester EDA voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend joining the coalition, pending final approval by City Council.
In other business at Tuesday morning’s meeting, the city EDA:
Unanimously approved its fiscal year 2020 operating budget of $345,080, which Hershberger described as “basically the same” as the previous two budgets.
Unanimously approved a deed that will transfer ownership of a 0.4-acre park next to a traffic roundabout linking East Piccadilly Street, National Avenue and North East Lane from the city to the EDA. In turn, the EDA will consolidate the property with adjacent lots that have been designated for construction of EPicc Lofts, a five-story mixed-use complex, and be used as greenspace for the development. The parcel will continue to be offered as public parkland.
Elected new officers for 2019-2020. Jeff Buettner is chairman, Lauri Bridgeforth is vice chairwoman, Douglas Toan is treasurer and Cary M. Craig Jr. is secretary.
Attending Tuesday morning’s EDA meeting at the George Washington Hotel were Chairman Jeff Buettner and members Addie Lingle, Douglas Toan, Lauri Bridgeforth, Tim Painter and Cary M. Craig Jr. Member William Buettin was absent.