Vinton and the HIVE update downtown progress

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VINTON–Town Manager Chris Lawrence, Special Programs Director Mary Beth Layman, Angie Chewning and Todd Creasy from the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce, and Annette Patterson, president and founder of The Advancement Foundation (TAF), met with downtown business owners at the HIVE on October 21 to present an update on projects in the works.

Lawrence and Layman briefed those in attendance on the new library and projects involving the downtown revitalization project.

  • The new streetlights are all up; the old lights have been removed. A little touch-up paint will be applied to the lampposts.
  • New lamppost banners have been hung. Currently InVinton banners are on display. Snowflake banners are on hand for the holiday season into winter.  More banners will be purchased for patriotic holidays and other seasons.
  • Construction specifications are being compiled so that bids can go out on the Farmers’ Market Stage. The theme of the market stage will be upscale Bohemian, with barn doors and artistic enhancements.
  • The stage itself will almost double in size with renovations. The roof will be extended out. Plans are being discussed to add more events to the market to complement the existing summer Mingle concerts and festivals.
  • Signage will be added to provide photo-ops for visitors to the market area.
  • The Farmers’ Market has been doing a booming business with the return of Whitey Barton and the addition of other farm vendors, along with Chef Drew Buzik and Chef Chris Hamm who serve lunch at the market several days each week.
  • Façade improvements are underway at several downtown businesses. Grants are still available by contacting the Town Manager’s office in the Municipal Building.
  • Frank and Janine Stone are updating their antique business at the corner of Walnut and Lee with façade grant funding.
  • The blighted property at 123 Gus Nicks Boulevard which backs up to the market will soon be demolished as a result of the town’s relatively new spot blight abatement ordinance.
  • Imprinted crosswalks will be installed at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Pollard Street.
  • Installation of sidewalks will be completed soon running from the Walnut Avenue Bridge to the Farmers’ Market.
  • Construction on the Glade Creek Greenway Trail is set to get underway in the spring.  Town Council authorized an application for a grant to fund Phase 2 of the trail going under the railroad trestle and connecting to Gus Nicks Boulevard .
  • The town has purchased the Gish’s Mill property and will solicit public input on uses for the property in the upcoming months. One possible use involves the Greenway trail extending across the parcel to Vinyard Park.
  • The new Vinton Library is set to open on November 18.
  • Re-development of the Roland E. Cook will get underway in the spring. Historic tax credits to assist the Old School Partners LLC firm will hopefully be approved before the end of the year.
  • A new assistant town manager is about to be selected. A new police chief will be chosen by the end of the year if all goes well.

Chewning and Creasy announced that the VACC now has 268 members. They are actively recruiting new restaurants. They encourage area businesses to adopt the InVinton branding for their individual uses.

Annette Patterson shared details of the HIVE business incubator which opened in August and is bringing a “buzz” to downtown Vinton.

  • Seven entrepreneurs are now using space in the upper floor of the old Health Department Building which has been given a complete makeover thanks to Patterson, TAF, AmeriCorps volunteers, and local partners. Those businesses include Shows Great home staging, Conversation Peace, Invoke Ministries, aNew Day Massage and Wellness Center, a pastoral counselor, Vinton Window and Glass, and Discount Computer Service.
  • Business leaders from throughout the valley have been recruited to mentor the new business owners with 118 volunteers now in the data bank—in  the new program which encourages seasoned business owners and other experts to lock arms with aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • About 20 entrepreneurs are taking classes at the HIVE on Thursday evenings, working to develop business plans and budgets to bring their dreams to fruition.
  • There are plans for the next Gauntlet new business competition to be held at the new library in early spring with cash awards for winning proposals.
  • Individuals and businesses may help support the HIVE Business Incubation Center by joining the Merchant Members Club. Information is available at www.TheAdvancementFoundaion.org