Highland County EDA Discusses Impact of Maple Festival Cancellation

The cancellation of this year’s Highland County Maple Festival was discussed at length at the Highland County Economic Development Authority’s January meeting.   EDA member Henry Budzinski said that from an economic standpoint the cancellation is devastating to Highland.  He questioned if being cancelled two years in a row will do long term damage to the festival.   Budzinski also said some sugar camps may be open to some extent those weekends and he asked how the EDA could support and help businesses that will be open.  EDA members discussed if there could be a coordinated effort with the Chamber for advertising the plans for the two March weekends when the festival would have been held.  Budzinski said he would meet with Chamber Executive Director Chris Swecker.  The EDA may hold an additional meeting with Swecker to discuss ways the EDA could help with advertising or support for businesses that will be open.

The EDA approved asking for level funding for its fiscal year 2021 budget.  The amount is $17,500, which is $15,000 for incentive grants and $2,500 for operational expenses.

The EDA heard updates from two 2019 Incentive Grant recipients on how they each used their grant funding.  One was CL Photoz where the money helped purchase photography and computer equipment to upgrade and expand their business.  The other was Tonoloway Farm where the money helped with the purchase of equipment, such as a reverse osmosis machine, tanks and tools, which helped increase syrup production.  The deadline for the next round of Incentive Grants is February 1st.   The grant application and more information and assistance is available on the Highland County Chamber of Commerce website.

EDA member Bryan Obaugh reported on Tourism Council work.  The location for the signage project at the Confederate Breastworks has been approved by the Forest Service and the next step is presenting language to them for the signs.  The Tourism Council is also reviewing Marketing Assistance Grant submissions.   Obaugh suggested the EDA host grant writing workshops in the future as he feels more grant opportunities will become available.

EDA member Betty Mitchell said that all reports, except one, had been received from recipients of the Emergency Business Grants, which came from CARES Act funding.  Mitchell approved a deadline extension on that one report and said that the CARES Act money made a world of difference for those businesses.

Story By

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.

Current Weather