Highland EDA president requests Highland Center funding

Monterey, Va. –

Highland County Economic Development Authority president Kirk Billingsley addressed the Highland County Board of Supervisors at their meeting last week on a request for funding support for the Highland Center capital campaign to fund the renovation of the Highland Center building in Monterey.

“At our September meeting we had a presentation from the Highland Center concerning the Capital Campaign,” said Mr. Billingsley. “They are looking for local government support in order to show potential grant sources that we as a county are behind their efforts. We can show that with a monetary contribution. At the EDA meeting on September 17, the members unanimously voted to request from the Highland County Board of Supervisors twenty-five thousand dollars to be contributed to the Highland Center through the EDA for the Highland Center’s Capital Campaign. This request was asked for by the Highland Center at five thousand dollars for five years,” he said.

Mr. Billingsley goes on to describe the significant economic impact that the Highland Center has had on the county over the past 15 years.

“If you look at the economic development that has been happening in Highland over the past several years, there’s a lot of it that’s been done by the Highland Center,” said Mr. Billingsley. “We are well aware of the contribution they’ve made to economic development in Highland County. Many of these programs have a direct impact to our local residents and to the farmers. They have in the past obtained grants from outside Highland to achieve these programs. In fact, the Center has received grants from federal, state and private agencies totaling over three million dollars over the past fifteen years. Three million dollars coming into this county,” he said.

Since 1998, the Highland Farmers Market has brought local produce, art work and other goods into Monterey each Friday afternoon.

“The Farmers Market, they are in their fifteenth year,” said Mr. Billingsley. “Their sales have more than doubled from last year during this current year. Several local producers have taken advantage of the opportunity to sell their local produce, baked goods, canned goods, and locally grown meats directly to consumers. Thus creating more profit for the producers. On the flip side of this, more money that used to go out of the county for meat and fresh produce is now staying in the county, not to mention also bringing money in from outside the county,” he said.

The Highland Center also brought the community the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center by combining private investment with grant funds – a model the Center hopes will be successful in raising the $4 million needed to renovate the Highland Center building and support the programs it houses.

“Probably the crown jewel is the leading role they took in establishing the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center, which provides more opportunity for local producers to market directly to consumers” said Mr. Billingsley. “I think it is safe to say that Highlanders are eating more locally grown beef and more consumers are paying farmers retail prices for the meat that the farmers used to sell as a commodity.”

The Highland Center is hoping to leverage the contributions by the county and other local organizations into the funding for the building renovation and the startup funds for several programs.

“They are currently working on a grant from the federal EDA for Nine hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars and one of the scoring opportunities on there is what have you gotten from local contributions,” said Mr. Billingsley. “The Appalachian Regional Commission grant for five hundred thousand dollars is pending and they have received VDOT grants in the amount of six hundred and sixty thousand dollars and they have raised six hundred and ten thousand dollars to date from private donors for this project. An economic impact study prepared by the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission showed the impact for Highland County would be approximately five point eight million dollars, not including the additional jobs that would be created by the center for their programs. The grants they are currently working on will be helped greatly by a contribution from us as a county,” he said.

The Supervisors are likely to consider this request for funding at a meeting in the near future.
For Allegheny Mountain

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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