Home Waynesboro leaders talk economic development, Wayne Theatre on Viewpoints

Waynesboro leaders talk economic development, Wayne Theatre on Viewpoints


viewpoints episode 1New Waynesboro City Council members Elzena Anderson and Terry Short were talking economic development issues on Viewpoints on WVPT on Wednesday.

The two key focal points: the Wayne Theatre and the Exit 96 commerce park.

Go to WVPT.net for more details on how to view the program on demand.

First, to the Wayne Theatre deal, and some background: the City Council, this past spring, left $150,000 that had been committed to the theatre as part of an economic-development agreement out of the operating budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1.

Anderson and Short weren’t part of the City Council that made that call, but they are part of the governing body that will have to try to do business with future potential economic-development partners in the wake of the move by their predecessors to renege on the Wayne Theatre deal.

“I think it’s definitely a struggle that we’re going to face, and I think it’s something that we cannot deny as far as people seeing that, like, wait, you didn’t meet this agreement, so why should we come in and make an agreement with you?” said Anderson, who feels “for sure that it’s going to come up again, and it’s going to be an issue that we’re going to have to face with a new city council.”

“I hope that we look at the bigger picture, and we decide from there, and not just look at this one area of the issue,” Anderson said.

Short talked around the Wayne Theatre issue a bit.

“The arts community is critically important and is an important ingredient to a healthy economy. Relative to the Wayne, I certainly think that there’s a story to be told of the benefits of the Wayne and what the Wayne has brought to our downtown community and adjacent property value and new tax revenue that should be recognized,” Short said. “Certainly I think there’s a growing consensus that we need to examine the Wayne and the performance of the Wayne and come together as a body to make some decisions. Because there were certainly some financial expectations that were made on behalf of the Wayne that those funds would be made available.

“But I think we have to do it in a way, too, that respects the property owners. There are many folks in Waynesboro who want no part of the Wayne. So I think that there is a balance. I think there’s a way to acknowledge the contribution that the Wayne brings to our economy in a way that actually doesn’t require any real-estate tax revenue increase. There are ways to do that. I’m certainly looking forward to exploring that,” Short said.

Short, a veteran planner with the Staunton District office at the Virginia Department of Transportation, was more direct in discussing the latest developments with the Exit 96 commerce park. The most recent news there is that VDOT has approved including an access road to open up the development of the commerce park in its six-year improvements plan, a big step in the process to bringing the vision for the park to reality.

“It’s really important for folks to understand how significant that road will be for the future of our local economy,” Short said. “Not only in terms of access to existing parcels, but more so about access to that industrial park. It’s great to have seven- and eight-dollar-an-hour jobs, but if we’re not focused on how to gain employment and attract employers to an area that has high-paying and decent-paying, living-wage jobs, we’re in a tough road. So it’s important that we use this to its greatest capacity to attract employment.”



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