— Get your recipes ready! The Middleburg Business and Professional Association will be publishing a new cookbook this year with seasonal recipes highlighting the region’s flavors, events and local businesses.

Each MBPA member will have a page in the cookbook with room for a recipe, photo and information about the business. The association plans to collect all the recipes by the end of March, so the cookbooks can be printed and available for sale by the fall, with proceeds benefitting MBPA.

“I think it could be something fun and all the members get to participate,” said MBPA President Punkin Lee.

The new initiative was announced Feb. 9 at MBPA’s virtual Biz Buzz, hosted by Chloe’s of Middleburg. (You can watch a video of the entire Biz Buzz here.)

The Middleburg Business and Professional Association is also partnering with the Windy Hill Foundation for a Fox Sox Donation Drive that will run through Feb. 27. MBPA is collecting new socks for people of all ages (including diabetic socks) for Windy Hill residents. Socks can be dropped off at Journeymen Saddlers (2 W. Federal St.) Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The Biz Buzz also served to highlight the charitable efforts of local businesses during the pandemic. For example, Chloe’s of Middleburg shop owner Wendy Osborn personally selected jackets, scarves, personal items, masks, socks, bags and more for gift bags she donated to women in Loudoun County who needed assistance. “It was heartwarming and important that we do this to make a difference, to provide for people who don’t have as much as I might have during the holiday time,” Osborn said.

Already in the works for MBPA is another charitable effort: a food drive for Seven Loaves in March, which has historically been a slow month for the local food bank. “There is a need, and we need to help,” said Lee, noting that a food drive for Seven Loaves before Christmas brought in almost 2 tons of food.

Also touted at the meeting were MBPA’s efforts to help Middleburg businesses gain traction with customers, including the new “Shop Middleburg” gift card and ramped-up social media efforts in 2021. On the social media front, Lee noted that MBPA’s Facebook advertising reached 97,000 people with 181,000 impressions in 2020 and the association’s video advertisements reached almost 50,000 viewers.

In other local business news, John Deering has sold his Middleburg Auto Parts store to a new owner and the old Southern States building is becoming the home of a new business this spring. Ben and Tara Wegdam, owners of Crème de la Crème, Zest and Lou Lou, plan to open Brick & Mortar Mercantile, which will carry clothing, gifts, home accents, and more.

“From an economic development professional perspective, it is a great sign that a local business is making an investment in the town where they already do business,” said Jamie Gaucher, the Town of Middleburg’s business and economic development director. “The fact that national business owners Ben and Tara, who have stores all across the country and they could have stores anywhere, and they’re choosing to have an additional store here in Middleburg really speaks to … the leadership here in this community and it speaks to the local economy, so it’s a great sort of vote of confidence,” he added.

Gaucher also noted that Loudoun County Economic Development has launched a new “Work in Loudoun” initiative aimed at connecting the region’s workforce with open positions at businesses in the county. The program’s goal is to provide resources to local employees and jobseekers, current Loudoun businesses, and businesses that are considering investing in Loudoun County.

Gaucher himself will be leaving the Town of Middleburg to take a position with Fairfax County Economic Development effective next week. Until his replacement is found, business owners and residents should direct their economic development questions to Town Administrator Danny Davis.

Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton also addressed attendees at the meeting, noting Middleburg’s success in transforming the traditional Christmas in Middleburg festivities to a monthlong celebration during the pandemic. Littleton also said he expects the Town of Middleburg to implement additional COVID-related programs this year, as more funding becomes available from the federal government.

Already, Loudoun County has a number of different COVID-19 response programs, and Littleton encouraged attendees to seek out help from the Town Office for assistance in navigating the programs. “We are happy to help people apply for those programs or put you in contact with the folks at the county who are running them,” he said.

Additionally, the Town of Middleburg has already secured a very limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines to be administered locally. These vaccine doses are targeted for older, at-risk individuals with travel restrictions and/or limited mobility. Interested residents can sign up for the vaccines at loudoun.gov.

Public health officials currently expect Virginia to reach the herd-immunity threshold by mid- to late summer, Littleton said.

MBPA’s next virtual Biz Buzz will be held Tuesday, March 9.