Middleburg jumpstarts economic development push

— The Middleburg Business and Professional Association (MBPA) has joined forces with the Middleburg Town Council and Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) to develop an action plan for revitalizing the downtown retail area, Middleburg Town Councilman Bridge Littleton announced Tuesday at MBPA’s Biz Buzz networking event at The Hill School.

A nine-member committee including representatives from MBPA’s Board of Directors, the Town Council and EDAC will be meeting with a professional facilitator over the next few months to develop the plan, with implementation expected to begin later this year. The initial meetings will focus on defining the issues, understanding the existing resources and coming up with practical solutions that everyone can support, Littleton said.

The end result will be some solutions that can be implemented quickly, as well as more long-term strategies. “What’s going to come out of this is a battle really for all of us to engage in as a community to move forward and create the kind of stimulus and activity that we want that would really take and make a difference for the town,” Littleton said.

As a first step, MBPA released a survey to its membership on Friday seeking input to help guide its efforts to identify existing challenges for Middleburg retailers and potential actions to address those concerns.

“We have to start getting information, facts back from you all in order to continue and make this plan work,” said MBPA President Punkin Lee.

One key to the plan’s implementation will be the hiring of a new business and economic development director for the town to take over after Middleburg native Cindy Pearson retires from her position as the town’s economic development coordinator this fall. The town is currently seeking applicants for this position.

The Biz Buzz also served as an opportunity to note the increasing strength of the association, which has already had 77 members renew so far this year and boasts an additional 18 new members. The association, with funding from the Town of Middleburg, is also pushing out several new videos this year aimed at marketing the town to visitors.

The downtown area is also abuzz with activity, with the start of Middleburg’s 6th annual Ultimate Winter Weekend Sale from Feb. 17-19. Look for the blue and white balloons outside participating retailers and enjoy savings of as much as 65% off.

And, adding to the diversity of Middleburg’s food offerings, Thaiverse 2 is planning to open as a new Thai restaurant at 101 S. Madison St., the space formerly occupied by The French Hound. We can’t wait!

In the meantime, look for more updates on the economic development plan at the next Biz Buzz, which will be held March 14 and co-hosted by Middleburg Academy and Back Street Catering.

Also upcoming:

  • “The Country Way” at The Byrne Gallery (through Feb. 25): Artists from Middleburg and neighboring areas share their artwork inspired by the country way of life in this juried art show sponsored by the Middleburg Arts Council. Artist talks will be held Feb. 25 from 2-5 p.m.
  • Sunday Sketch at the National Sporting Library & Museum (March 5 | 2-4 p.m.): Join us for a free sketching session in the museum galleries! Supplies (pencils, paper, sketch boards and clipboards) will be provided for attendees. This week’s featured artist is Alice Porter, a local artist and art instructor. Alice will lead attendees in developing drawings into finished pieces. Register to Anne Marie Barnes at abarnes@nationalsporting.org or 540-687-6542 x25.
  • Hooked! at the National Sporting Library & Museum (March 18 | 11 a.m.): The National Sporting Library & Museum is pleased to announce its first public fly-fishing event, including fly-tying and fly-casting demonstrations as well as a roundtable discussion. Click here to purchase tickets.
  • Screening of “She Started It” at Foxcroft School (March 21 | 7 p.m.): Join us in Engelhard Gymnasium for this special screening of an award-winning film about five young women pursuing their startup dreams. Tech entrepreneur Sheena Allen, one of the women featured in the film, will be on-hand for the performance. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so RSVP to 540-687-4510 or events@foxcroft.org by March 17.
  • The Garth Newel Piano Quartet at Foxcroft School (March 28 | 7 p.m.): The Garth Newel Piano Quartet is known for spirited and impassioned performances that offer an enlivened interpretation of both standard and new repertoire. Join us at the FoxHound Auditorium for this free program. Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot by March 10 by RSVPing to 540-687-4510 or advancement@foxcroft.org.
  • Shakespeare in the ‘Burg at (March 31-April 2): This year’s Shakespeare in the ‘Burg brings a performance for young theatre fans by Nicolo Whimsey at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on March 31 at 3:15 p.m., a performance of “Two Men in Verona” by the Shakespeare in the Square Theater Co. at The Hill School on April 1 at 7:30 p.m. and an elegant champagne brunch and performance at The Hill School on April 2 at 11 a.m. Buy your tickets here.
  • Middleburg’s 5K and Healthy Eating and Active Living Fair (April 1 | 8 a.m.-2 p.m.): The race will start at 8 a.m. at the Middleburg Community Center. Runners will follow a course along Foxcroft Road to Glenwood Park and then return to the community center for awards. The fair will begin at 9:30 a.m., including speakers, exercise classes, food for purchase and more.
  • Auction at The Hill School (May 13): This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Hill School’s auction, which raises funds for the school, including financial aid and improvements to the arboretum. You can find out more about participating or sponsoring the auction on The Hill School’s website.