By Aila Boyd

During its March meeting, the Fincastle Town Council voted in favor of a resolution which will allow the town to become a “Main Street Affiliate” with Main Street Virginia, a program run by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

We’re always looking for ways to better Fincastle,” David Tickner, town manager, said. “We heard about the program and thought it was time to apply.”

He explained that although being a “Main Street Affiliate” doesn’t cost the town anything, there are numerous benefits associated with membership.

Membership provides small localities with access to staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development who have expertise in matters of economic development, organizational structure development assistance, and the ability to apply for a small grant for use of a specific project. The total amount of the grant cannot exceed $7,000 and is awarded on a competitive basis. If funding is awarded for a service, there is no match requirement. However, if funding is requested for a project, the program requires a dollar-for-dollar match.

According to documentation from the Department of Housing and Community Development, the program offers affiliates the “opportunity to learn about best practices in the field and to network with peers from around the state.”

Larger localities, consisting of 50 commercial enterprises and 70 commercial structures located within the Main Street District, can apply to be part of the Main Street Virginia program. The program offers professional advice on revitalization projects and Community Development Block Grants, including Building Entrepreneurial Economies and Industrial Revitalization Funds grants.

The application process isn’t competitive. It requires affiliates to keep their community contact information updated and expects them to attend annual Virginia Main Street training in order to remain active in the program.

One of the potential uses for the funds that Tickner mentioned is Big Spring Park.

The park is located on Back Street and is owned by the Town of Fincastle.

The Affiliate Program provides the opportunity for smaller communities like Buchanan to use the Main Street Model as a guide for its revitalization activities, providing access to training as well as limited on-site assistance as resources permit,” Jason Tyree, Buchanan town manager said. “Since becoming an Affiliate community, town staff has attended educational programs in Pulaski and Staunton as well as the opportunity to participate in online webinars. Attending programs allows the town to network with other communities, making ties with groups and individuals who have experienced the same issues we have.”

Most recently, Joy Rumley from the Abingdon Field Office coordinated a meeting between the county, town and property representative of the Groendyk property to discuss possible alternative uses for the property and possible tax credits and grants available to potential developers,” Tyree added.