By. Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
Rarely are Board of Supervisors approached to help make something happen without providing funding. Sherrie Smith, Executive Director of the Artisan Center of Virginia, approached the Greene County Board of Supervisors (BOS) on October 9, 2012 asking only for their support, not their dollars. Funding from the local Tourism Board would be directed toward ACV to get Greene started. The first year would involve implementing links to ACV’s website and then future years would maintain the system. Of course Greene’s BOS agreed to provide a letter of support of Greene’s participation in ACV.
So what is the Artisan Center of Virginia and what is the Artisan Trail Network? In 1987, then Governor Gerald Baliles, directed state agencies to “enhance the craft industry.” Finally in 1997, ACV was incorporated and on June 11, 2000 it was designated as the “official state artisans center.” Its goal is to help crafts of all types get their message out to increase tourism, increase jobs and finally, increase revenue. ACV has developed a statewide Craft Registry that identifies who and where the artisans are.
There are specific “trails” that identify specific areas such as the Monticello Artisan Trail. Nelson and Albemarle County combined to form this trail and it includes vineyards, breweries, a distillery, restaurants and lodging. This can then be linked to other websites that potential visitors to the area can easily link to.
Supervisor Davis Lamb noted that this website gets about 22,000 hits per month. Director of Economic Development Tony Williams who introduced Smith to the BOS, assured Supervisor Jim Frydl that this would not add to his workload and believes that this agreement will allow Greene County to market their product better than they are currently doing. Representatives of the newly formed Art Guild also endorsed this arrangement.
Central Virginia attracts a great number of tourists with well known sites such at Monticello, the University of Virginia, Montpelier, etc. Greene County will receive much greater exposure working with ACV and being linked on the same website as these major destinations rather than trying to attract visitors with a stand alone tourism website. Logically visitors coming down US 29 to Charlottesville or over Route 33 from the Shenandoah Valley are more likely to stop in Greene if they are aware of artisans in the area that they saw from the link on the ACV website when they are planning their trip.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credits: Artisan Trail Network, Greene County