Community Design Workshop focuses on Hot Springs

“We all recognize that tourism is a great economic driver in our community, but it isn’t the only way in which we can make money in this beautiful place, and so we created this opportunity to have a new economic development strategic plan.”
One part of the opportunity, Maggie Anderson, Bath County’s Director of Tourism and Ecomomic Development, just described is coming up on Wednesday May 27th from 6:30 to 9:00 when residents from all over Bath County are encouraged to participate in a Community Design Workshop at the Hot Springs Fire House. Russell Archembaut, of EKG Associates, and Bill Mechnick of Land Planning and Design Associates will lead the evening’s work.
“If we do our job right, it should be a fun and entertaining night. People will be asked to sort of solve some problems regarding how downtown Hot Springs functions and what they’d like to see in the future”, Russell Archembaut explained.
This is one among several chances to participate in discussions about other aspects of the county’s economy, but the more residents participating in all of these workshops, the more well-rounded the strategic plan can be.
Anderson shared some of the history leading up to Wednesday’s meeting.
“As a brief background for folks, back in the spring the Economic Development Authority, the EDA sent out requests for proposals throughout the state to identify companies who could provide us with an intelligent, thoughtful strategic plan that would guide the future of Bath County. Now there had been a plan done a few years ago by Virginia Tech, and I know people have asked me ‘Why do we need another economic development strategic plan?” The truth of the matter is that the economic plan that was presented by Virginia Tech did not involve community workshops. They did not go out into the community, and basically although it was a solid plan, they used much of the work that they had already done for the marketing plan for tourism, so that when we reviewed the plan we saw that, although it was a very strong tourism strategic plan, but not so much an economic development strategic plan.”
Now there is an established Economic Development Authority, that is a working group of local residents appointed by our supervisors. Their hopes, dreams and wishes are to see Bath County’s economy diversify from tourism. That group includes the following residents, so if for any reason you are unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, you can share thoughts you have about economic development with one of them: Roy Burns, Wayne Anderson, Mason Cauthorn, Jamie Gwin, Gloria Lindsey, Karen Williams and Crystal Salvatore.
Again Maggie Anderson: “We’ve been working with Mr. Archembaut. He has been interviewing members of the community. He’s been meeting with groups. He has been doing that sort of basic research that a good development plan requires, talking to our PDC, talking to the folks in Harrisonburg who are with the Shenandoah Planning District to understand just how our community fits into the communities that surround it.”
Russell Archembaut: “As we got into the project we knew that downtown Hot Springs would be one of our focal points, and thus we think it’s worthy of directing some extra effort towards what Hot Springs should be like in the future and thus we’re having this workshop to look at those questions specifically.”
And so the project involving the community at large begins Wednesday the 27th, 6:30 to 9:00 at the Hot Springs Fire House. Don’t let your kids keep you at home. Bring them too. Some refreshments will be provided.
“This is where we put our money where our mouth is. Let us know what’s important, so that all of those thoughts and ideas and concepts can be integrated into a preliminary document that we will build into a strong economic future for our community. We all know we want to keep our young people here. We know we need good jobs. We know we need to diversify our economy. How do we do that?”

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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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