In May, the Northumberland County Economic Development Commission, with assistance from the Northern Neck Planning District Commission in Warsaw, began the process to secure funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for a revitalization project aimed at enhancing commerce in Callao.
Similar projects are underway in Colonial Beach, White Stone and Warsaw. Revitalization efforts in Montross were recently completed with significant impact, including enhanced storefronts, new street lighting, a vibrant business environment, an increase in commerce, and new business opportunities.
To date, the County has received a total of $15,000 in incremental state grants for revitalization planning as a result of meeting certain qualifications as it progresses with the project. Among those requirements was the establishment of a management team for the project, comprised of key stakeholders reflecting a cross-section of the area’s government, as well as general population and economy, business community, and cultural and social interests of Callao. The role of the Management Team is to provide leadership for the development of the revitalization project to ensure it reflects the needs and priorities of the community.
A second requirement was a to convene a public meeting to give citizens a comprehensive overview of the proposed project, as well as the county’s intentions to identify economic and physical improvements required for the Callao area, and to involve businesses, residents and other potential beneficiaries in expressing their needs and desires. The Public Meeting, held in September, was widely promoted and over 130 citizens attended and expressed support for the initiative.
To determine Callao’s eligibility for a revitalization implementation grant, an inventory of the open spaces and buildings, both vacant and occupied, was conducted—along with a description of their condition and included photographs. DHCD then authorized the County to move forward in determining what the Callao community wanted to see for its future. Toward that end, the community engaged in a facilitated Visioning session to set the parameters and priorities for types of revitalization activities that will be needed.
With the completion of this “pre-planning” phase, the County submitted an application for a $35,000 grant to bring in experts – designers, engineers, landscapers, lighting specialist – to assist in developing an implementation plan with projected costs to achieve the vision of the community. If the application is approved, the goal is to have the plan completed and submitted for implementation funding by early 2017. Residents and businesses in Callao and across the county are excited by the potential of the project to expand commerce in the area.
Theresa Lambert is the Executive Director of the Northumberland County Economic Development Commission