‘WE TRAIN HEROES’
ECONOMIC VISION EFFORT UNDERWAY
How should Nottoway County promote and market itself to prospective new industry?
How do the towns of Blackstone, Crewe, and Burkeville fit into the County’s strategy?
Those questions were hot topics during a July 23rd meeting of Nottoway County’s Economic Development Committee (EDC).
Crewe Mayor Phil Miskovic inquired about the EDC’s “vision.”
Assistant County Administrator John Prosise said the EDC -- which was established in 1996 after the former economic development commission was abolished -- has always taken two approaches:
1) to provide more employment options, with higher wages, for Nottoway County citizens.
2) to diversify and broaden the County’s tax base.
Miskovic asked how the EDC plans to achieve that vision. He suggested efforts at agri-business, agri-tourism, data centers, and working with the new FASTC at Fort Pickett “and really marketing Nottoway County as the world’s epicenter of diplomatic security. How are we using our current assets to really move forward economically?”
Prosise explained that most prospects come to Nottoway County through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “Our job is to make sure the partnership knows what we have here. Then when they receive a prospect, with certain needs, hopefully they will match up with what we have. We don’t cold-call. Most of our leads will come from either the partnership or existing businesses that are already here. And that happens more than you think.”
Miskovic asked, “What do we see ourselves as? Do we see ourselves as agribusiness/agritourism, do we see ourselves as a potential site for diplomatic security, or a little bit of both? Once we have an idea of what we see ourselves as, what do we do to better promote ourselves?”
County Supervisor Steve Bowen turned the tables. “What does CREWE see itself as?”
Miskovic said the new Council and Town Manager will soon be discussing that topic.
Prosise said he’s always been careful to avoid “pigeonholing ourselves into any one particular sector of the economy. But we market ourselves as ‘We Train Heroes in Nottoway County.’ We train police officers (State Police Driving School), we train military people (Fort Pickett), we train drone pilots (Blackstone Army Airfield), we train doctors and nurses at Piedmont hospital, we train agribusiness professionals (VA Tech research center). That’s one thing, we train heroes.”
Miskovic called the ‘heroes’ approach “a great marketing tool. But in the eight years of serving on this committee, that’s the first time I’ve heard of this. So what can we do to better understand ourselves and better understand our own identity in order to work together and create a better strategy?”
Blackstone Mayor Billy Coleburn said visioning is a difficult undertaking, and expressed support for the “We Train Heroes” approach. He said Nottoway County also offers cheap land, open space, friendly people, low crime, “and we love God and country, and we’re good at growing stuff.”
Supervisor Bowen said he’d like to hear from each town before the County attends its first meeting of the Farmvillebased Commonwealth Regional Council, a regional planning group which the Board of Su pervisors joined June 16th.
Bowen said he likes “Virginia’s Crossroads” because of the intersection of major highways, Rts. 460 and 360. “That’s the crossroads of Virginia, baby.”
Supervisor John Roark, who now chairs the EDC after the March death of Supervisor Noel Shekleton, said that he and Mayor Miskovic are planning a joint Town Hall meeting in August “to open community dialogue other than through a keyboard.”
Roark also said answering Miskovic’s visioning questions will be instrumental in developing the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
Miskovic said each town should report back to the EDC with its economic visions before the EDC’s next meeting.