Bath County IDA is now the Bath County EDA

Recently the Board of Supervisors approved a request by the IDA to change their name from IDA (Industrial Development Authority) to EDA (Economic Development Authority) to reflect their new focus and vision for economic growth for Bath County.  There is no difference in the responsibilities between the IDA and the EDA, but with the name change comes an expanded economic view.

The EDA has been working closely with Ashton Harrison, County Administrator and Maggie Anderson the Director of Tourism and Economic Development to develop a “toolbox” of options that can be helpful to incentivize new business (both large and small) to locate to the area, as well as to assist existing businesses wishing to expand.  The EDA is fully engaged with the County staff, the Board of Supervisors and the business community.  They have reached out to our Shenandoah Valley Partnership, a group responsible for economic development in our area and region, and invited their Executive Director Dennis Burnett to meet with them.  We know we want businesses that support our quality of life and the work that the EDA and the County staff are doing now is laying the groundwork for those possibilities.

To that end, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved funding to develop an Economic Development Strategic Plan.  The Office of Tourism and Economic Development in partnership with the EDA has been tasked with creating and implementing that plan.

I see this process as a collaborative one.  As the work of the strategic plan begins the Board will be asked to think about a variety of different ways to address the needs of the business community.  What might this look like?  We may be asked to consider the creation of entrepreneurial, tourism or technology zones—all approved financing methods that allow us to support new and/or expanding businesses.  The Authority might find new and interesting ways to either develop the Industrial park or purchase other lands in the County for the purpose of business development.  We, as a County may also wish to acquire land with the express purpose of constructing a Visitor Center/Community area to fulfill the increasing need for a more comprehensive Visitor Center which could also include permanent space for the Farmers Market, a Festival area, a presentation space or even meeting rooms that could be used by all members of the community.

In the coming weeks there will be some announcements about new businesses in downtown Hot Springs.  We will leave those exciting announcements to the businesses, but we are pleased to see this renewed interest in our County.

I want to thank the EDA for their vision and their willingness to reinvent themselves in support of that vision and acknowledge the members of the Authority:  Wayne Anderson, Chair, Mason Cauthorn, Vice-Chair, Karen Williams, Treasurer, Gloria Lindsay, Secretary, Crystal Salvatore, Jamie Gwin and Roy Burns.  The group meets the second Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m. at the Library conference room.  All meetings are open to the public.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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