Category Archives: Economic Development

Economic development plan strategic plan contract awarded

Earlier this year, the city announced it was seeking a firm to conduct an economic development strategic plan. This week the contract was awarded to Resonance Consultancy of New York City

“As leading advisors in tourism, real estate and economic development, Resonance helps places understand market trends, assess their strengths and weaknesses, engage local communities, plan for the future, and create branding and communications in order to realize their full economic potential,” reads the website.

Economic Development Director Chris Engel told the Economic Development Authority in September that the plan would include public input opportunities and that this would be the first such plan in a decade.  

For contrast, Albemarle County has their Project Enable for economic development. 

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Charlottesville convening Committee to plan for Mall celebration, maintenance

In just under two weeks, the city of Charlottesville will hold another Grand Illumination at the Charlottesville Pavilion to say hello to a new holiday tree. This will take place in a space that is now the eastern anchor of a former city street, and thousands will be there. 

Perhaps some of the attendees will be doing research into the future of the Downtown Mall, an initiative that dates back to the late 1950’s. The first section opened in 1976 and there’s a lot of history from before and after. But what about the future? 

“The City Manager is forming a Downtown Mall Committee for the purpose of discussing and vetting ideas for the future management and operations of the mall,” reads a press release. “The intent of this committee is to be a representative public forum for the discussion of the challenges and potential solutions for the Downtown Mall.” 

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Area tourism bureau partnering with Destinations International on diversity pilot

An organization that works with tourism agencies across the world to attract people to specific locations has launched a pilot project with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau to highlight the area’s inclusivity. 

The CACVB will work with Destinations International on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion “Tourism for All” program.

“Through a focus on inclusive marketing, welcoming diverse demographics and creating accessible spaces, the [Convention and Visitors Bureau] can become the bright beacon to which people from anywhere can find commonality and community, while also attracting new and underserved travelers to the destination,” reads a press release on the pilot. 

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Latest report on family self-sufficiency is released

The number of families who don’t have enough income to cover the cost of living has decreased since 2011, according to the latest study from Network 2 Work at Piedmont Virginia Community College. The fifth version of the Orange Dot Report tracks households who make less than $35,000 in Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. (read the report)

“The comparable number of families struggling in the region in 2011 was 12,552, which was 21% of families,” reads a summary of the report. “The 2022 number–9,413 families–is a 25 percent reduction in the number of struggling families in the region.”

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WillowTree acquired by Canadian firm

Charlottesville-based WillowTree started operations in 2008 and has since grown to have over a dozen studios across the world. Today, the TELUS Corporation of Vancouver in Canada announced it is buying WillowTree for $1.225 billion, buying out the shares held by the Insignia Capital Group, who have held the majority stake. 

“The acquisition of WillowTree brings key tech talent and diversity to TELUS International’s portfolio of next-generation solutions, and further augments its digital consulting and innovative client-centric software development capabilities,”  said Darren Entwistle, Chair of the Board of TELUS International and President and CEO of TELUS in a release

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Louisa County Planning Commission recommends rezoning for resort, but declines to recommend 80-foot buildings

Plans to build a hotel and residential complex on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa are before that county’s government and went before the nine-member Planning Commission on October 13. Before we get into the details about what happened, you can also choose to read an account of this meeting as a thread on Tammy Purcell’s Twitter account. Purcell writes the newsletter Engage Louisa.

Don’t tell me how it ended. I’m still going through the audio of the meeting, in which senior planner Thomas Egeland introduced the several requests before them from L.A. Resort LLC by laying out the land. 

“Together these two parcels make up 15.277 acres located near the Spottsylvania / Louisa County border adjacent to the New Bridge Road, Route 208,” Egeland said. 

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Ground-breaking held for new University of Virginia hotel

The University of Virginia’s transformation of Ivy Road into a high-profile corridor off of Charlottesville’s tax rolls continues as work has begun on the construction of a new hotel and conference center. UVA Today reports that shovels overturned dirt on October 6 for the project which has a $130.5 million budget

“This will be a crossroads for the University – and the University’s front door,” UVA President Jim Ryan is quoted in the story. “The hotel and conference center will play an important role as a place where people can gather and stay – prospective students and their parents; data scientists, faculty from the Law School can meet there with members of the Medical School faculty. This will be a bridge that makes the community stronger, bring worlds together in ways that are predictable and unpredictable.”

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City leasing part of York Place for public bathroom

The Downtown Mall is 46 years old and remains a destination for locals and out-of-towners alike. One thing has been constant for most of that time.

“There [has] not been in the history of the Mall any truly accessible public restrooms that are proximate to where people are when they’re on the Mall,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “Prior to COVID the transit center which is at the east end of the mall and it had some public facilities on the lower level.”

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Ten companies get local funding from United Way, Minority Business Alliance

The United Way of Greater Charlottesville and the Minority Business Alliance have made a third round of grants to fund 10 organizations that are just getting started. 

“The United Way of Greater Charlottesville and the Minority Business Alliance of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce are committed to addressing historical inequities for minority businesses in our community, most glaringly to access to capital,” said Ravi Respeto, President & CEO of the United Way of Greater Charlottesville. 

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Local Food Hub awarded federal funds for new app, Virginia Black Farmer directory

An organization that seeks to promote the local food economy across Virginia has been awarded $67,810 for three of its programs. The funding for the Local Food Hub comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. 

“The Virginia Black Farmer Directory will build new bridges to market access for underserved farms,” reads the public notice of the award. “The Grower/Buyer Expo will help farmers and purchasers emerge from the pandemic by connecting face-to-face once again.” 

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