By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Greene County Planning Commission began their update of the Comprehensive Plan with a workshop at the Planning Commission’s December 17th meeting. The economic development focus was led by Alan Yost, Director of Economic Development Authority, presented the strategic plan for the county.
- Small Business Development
- Industrial Development
- Stanardsville Vitality
- Ruckersville Commerce
- Tourism Development
- Agri-Business / Agri-Tourism
Yost explained the key to the strategic plan is both to attract new business and retain existing businesses.
In his presentation, Yost mentioned that Nelson County is close in size to Greene County and can be a good model to follow. Nelson has seen dramatic expansion of their tourism, winery and brewery operations over the last ten years.
In terms of existing Ruckersville businesses, there are a variety of alternatives from small engine repair to bicycle shops to a national restaurant chain.
Yost highlighted the goal of tourism expansion and development. He cited vacation rentals as a key area to focus on. He also mentioned festivals such as the Virginia Clay Festival to be held in the fall of 2015 will increase tourism.
In assessing strengths and weaknesses, Yost commented that attracting a large business is difficult without rail or air nearby. However, midsize businesses are attractive to our area especially with being close to Interstate 81, 66 and 95.
Planning Commission Chairman Jay Willer asked about attracting firms affiliated with the University of Virginia to locate in Greene County. Yost indicated that most of these firms find it to be a competitive advantage to locate relatively close to UVA.
According to Yost, anecdotal evidence suggests a large portion of tourism visits within the county come from tourists staying at Massanutten Resort and he has targeted this market for increased promotion.
Also, Yost indicated that Greene is growing as a wedding destination and he is working on a website to show the offerings of the county.
Yost indicated that he views the Comprehensive Plan as marketing tool for prospective businesses. Businesses looking to relocate look at the county’s website and the Comprehensive Plan to gather information about the county. One of the biggest issues facing Greene County is utility availability.
Offering of natural gas is only at two sites – one in Stanardsville and potentially one on Route 29 south below Blue Ridge Café. The Town of Stanardsville water and sewer infrastructure is outdated and this was proven about five years ago when a developer walked away from Stanardsville due to this among other issues.
Inversely, Stanardsville can capitalize on its proximity to the Shenandoah National Park.
Yost updated the Planning Commission on an outing for the 25 concierges from Massanutten to several locations in Greene County – including Blue Ridge Pottery, Lafayette Hotel http://thelafayette.com/ and Noon Whistle Pottery.
Willer then opened the meeting for public comment. Don Pamenter of Stanardsville, stated that economic development is extremely important for Greene County in order to minimize the tax impact to home owners. He also reconfirmed the problem with water and sewer in the Stanardsville area and that improvements are needed for economic development as well as a water supply for fire protection.
Chairman Willer indicated that tentatively education would be reviewed at the January, 2015 meeting. Commissioner Vic Schaff indicated that he is working on a study with Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh and that they would be better prepared to present their information in February.
Chairman Willer asked Planning Director Bart Svoboda to see what departments would be available to present in January and work with Whitmarsh to schedule them for February along with Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC).
The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Greene County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.