Radford City Council approved the $10,000 annual appropriation for the Radford Chamber of Commerce on Monday, amid continuing talks to somehow combine services with Main Street Radford and keep both economic development organizations afloat.
The move Monday to appropriate the Chamber of Commerce’s funding will allow the organization to bring back its director, Michelle Linkous, who has been laid off for several months due to lack of funding. Chamber Board of Directors President Wally Galla said Monday the organization is excited to bring Linkous back to continue work on behalf of Radford’s business community.
Galla also said the Chamber board has met with the Main Street Radford board of directors to discuss the possibilities of combining office space and using other cost-saving measures to make both the Chamber and Main Street Radford more viable.
City Council has not appropriated Main Street Radford’s city funding for the upcoming fiscal year, and Radford Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown said Monday council would not consider approving funding until the organization returns to council with an updated contract with the city that details deliverable services. At council’s June 10 meeting, Brown and council members discussed that annual agreement between MSR and the city, the document that details the accomplishments MSR must make in exchange for $51,000 in city funds annually, with MSR Board President Wanda Pearce and acting treasurer Mary Day.
“What’s missing from this is a list of deliverables,” said Brown at the June 10 meeting. “It’s short on details.”
Also at the June 10 meeting, council member Keith Marshall said he questions whether or not the city is getting its money’s worth.
“We are committing $51,000 in taxpayer money to this,” said Marshall. “When I have to look someone in the eye and tell them their money’s been well-spent — can I say that? Is this money well-spent?”
At that meeting, Pearce said she feels the organization needs to redirect its focus, spending less time on events and more time on filling vacant storefronts and fostering the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Since that time, Pearce has resigned from the board, according to remaining MSR board members. Board members also say Main Street Radford Director Becky Haupt will be laid off June 30 when the current fiscal year funding runs out.
MSR also cancelled the June installment of the Radford After Five concert series. In information released June 19, MSR cites an evolving focus as reason for the concert cancellation.
“As the needs of the City of Radford continue to evolve, the Main Street Radford Board of Directors are reviewing and recalibrating our promotion and economic development efforts to better serve the community,” the statement reads. “Main Street Radford apologizes for any inconvenience this change may cause.
“It remains a major goal of Main Street Radford to present strong community events and this would not be possible without the tremendous support and the Board thanks the community for their continued support,” it continues.
By Heather Bell