CHRISTIANSBURG – Small Business Solutions Manager Amanda Hebert’s presentation of Launch Christiansburg! was met with overwhelming approval during Christiansburg Town Council’s regular Tuesday meeting.
The communitywide business launch program seeks to encourage entrepreneurship and business growth in the Christiansburg metropolitan area.
Rebecca Rowe, Associate Director of the Community Vitality Office for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, shared with Hebert and others about an educational training business program that provides for an expansion of opportunities in commercial locations struggling to fill those vacancies.
“We have two downtown areas and many commercial zones associated with our community,” Hebert said.
This diversity of business zoning will require some adaptations to the business launch program to meet with the needs of the town of Christiansburg.
The presentation included some introductory information and study statistics from Main Street America, funding needs and sponsorship opportunities, a launch timeline, and a summary of the program. Data presented by Hebert referred to the website www.mainstreet.org, an organization working to help “revitalize older and historic commercial districts.”
Hebert referenced specifically an article titled: Jump off the Business Recruitment Train: The Real Returns are in Cultivating Local Entrepreneurship, by Dr. Matthew Wagner. In the article, based on a study conducted by Main Street America, community businesses are started by 70% of residents, 74% in historical districts. Other results of the study show large employers are more likely to have come from within a community and businesses are typically more sustainable that have been started by residents versus the result of outside recruitment.
Phase II of the project required the task of Hebert inventorying commercial properties in the area.
“In the process of doing that, I learned that 338 commercial properties are underutilized within our community and that is roughly 15.5% of our commercial area,” Hebert said. “That number excludes the residential properties within our business districts.”
Launch Christiansburg! consists of a 10-week business development educational program with the conclusion of the program providing the opportunity for entrepreneurs to compete for cash investments up to $5,000 in grant money. The business that receives the money must be in Christiansburg. Other benefits for local business support will also be provided, for example the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce will provide three free memberships.
“We have a budget need for this program of $19,200 and that includes the curriculum being the bulk of that dollar amount, which is $10,750,” Hebert said.
Grant award money and marketing needs will make up the additional budget needs for the program. Sponsorship opportunities are made available at different levels.
Hebert went on to say that the goal would be to launch the program with the final 10-week program in the fall of 2024.
“Once it gets kicked off, it’s a very well-developed and designed program,” Councilman Tim Wilson said. “If you are thinking of starting a business that she’s developing to help people get off the ground and have the potential to be a success if they put the effort in to it.”
Three consent agenda items were also unanimously approved during the meeting.
The Town of Christiansburg has contracted with Century Engineering, LLC., for professional engineering services on the design of the Stafford Drive signal for the Peppers Ferry Rd Project in the amount of $412,216.
“I’ll add, this is a 50/50 grant, we are furnishing half and VDOT, I believe, is furnishing the other half,” Mayor Mike Barber said.
Town Manager Randy Wingfield confirmed that this is correct under the Revenue Sharing Program.
As also part of the 50/50 Grant Revenue Sharing Program, the Town has contracted for professional engineering services provided by Whitman, Requardt, & Associates, LLP., for the Cambria Trail, Phase I Project in the amount of $689,218.55.
“So, we’re basically getting 1.1 million dollars of work done for about 500,000,” Barber said.
The last consent agenda item approved by the Council was a request for approval of two purchase orders. According to the agenda, both purchase orders together total $249,054.57. As described in the agenda and read before the council members, the first purchase order is to Excel Truck Group for a new 2024 Freightliner Cab and Single Axle Chassis, Model 114SD, with a total cost of $119,499.57. This purchase is through Cooperative Procurement using the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association Heavy Equipment Procurement Program Rollover Agreement. The second purchase order is to Henderson Products who will install the new dump body and snow removal equipment to the 2024 Freightliner. This purchase utilizes a Cooperative Procurement Agreement through Sourcewell, which provides the Town with a 10% discount.
In other actions, Council members voted unanimously to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) as requested and stated per the agenda, by Burch Properties LLC, and property owner Kevin Lagos, Lessee, to allow a public billiard parlor and poolroom on the property located at 1635 North Franklin St., zoned General Business District B-3. The purpose of the request is to permit billiard tables within the restaurant, eliminating the need for partitions that would otherwise be required. A conditional use permit is required due to a 2022 change in Town Code, Sec. 6-1, “Billiards and pool are not permitted in any room where alcoholic beverages are sold or dispensed unless allowed as part of the approval for a “public billiard parlors and poolrooms” conditional use permit…”. There are four proposed billiard tables located in the main serving area near the rear of the restaurant and adjacent to the restrooms. The proposed conditional use permit would be limited to the specific restaurant/unit stated within the application. The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval to Town Council on June 20, 2023.
The council also unanimously approved the rezoning request by Summit Community Bank, Inc., property owner, to rezone the property located at 100 Akers Farm Road, from Limited Business District B1 to General Business District B-3. The property is designated as Business/Commercial on the Future Land Use Map of the 2013 Christiansburg Comprehensive Plan. As described in the Council’s meeting agenda, the purpose of the request is to permit a larger freestanding sign. The B-1 zoning district permits 50 square feet per face, while the B-3 zoning district permits up to 75 square feet per face. The applicant has stated that they intend to erect a monument sign that has a 75 square foot face and is 16.3 feet tall. The Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval to Town Council on June 20, 2023.
Council member Casey Jenkins abstained from the vote due to the Summit Community Bank’s support to the Mongomery Museum, for which he serves as director.
The Christiansburg Town Council unanimously approved the recommendation to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors for reappointment of Mike Barber to the Montgomery – Blacksburg – Christiansburg Development Corporation for a term of July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026 (as stated in the agenda). Mayor Barber would be reappointed to serve a 3-year term. The Town has representation on many county-wide and regional boards and commissions. For a complete list, please click on this link: https://www.christiansburg.org/410/Other-BoardsCommissions.