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EDC: Smith River Festival impact growing
Attendance up from last year, Heath says
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Henry County Board of Supervisors heard a report Tuesday about the growing Smith River Fest, recent retail developments and other economic development matters.
Mark Heath, president/CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., gave the monthly update report at the supervisors’ afternoon meeting.
An estimated 2,400 people from 14 states attended the Smith River Fest on Aug. 10, according to the EDC’s report. Some 2,003 people were counted in a survey by ZIP code, and an estimated 400 people who parked in an overflow parking lot missed the survey, according to the report. The EDC estimated previously that about 1,500 people attended the festival in 2012.
Among those counted at this year’s festival, 1,838 people were from 63 Virginia communities. There also were 118 from North Carolina; seven from Florida; four from Alabama; three from Maryland; two each from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana; and one each from Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Montana and California. ZIP codes of 18 of the participants were either illegible or not traceable, the report states.
Attendance averaged 2.3 people per vehicle; 80 percent of the people attending were local and 20 percent were from outside the area; 63 percent were first-time participants compared with 37 percent returning participants, the report says.
Heath said he thinks the festival will continue to grow each year and help put Martinsville-Henry County “on the map.”
The event included a 4.8-mile river race for canoes, kayaks and other boats; both a competitive and fun Helmgramite Hustle Mud Run; fly casting demonstrations; crafts; music; inflatables; informational booths; and more.
It was organized by the parks and recreation departments of Henry County and Martinsville, MHC tourism division under the umbrella of the EDC, the Smith River Sports Complex, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge, Dan River Basin Association and Activate MHC.
Heath also gave a retail update, in which he said the EDC is working with a retail consultant to create a comprehensive data package with developers and real estate brokers.
His report listed recent retail developments in the area, including:
• Dollar General: Horsepasture, Spruce Street, Stanleytown.
• Bojangles: opened Aug. 23 in Ridgeway.
• Family Dollar: in process, Horsepasture.
• Cook Out: ongoing (conversation); looking at various locations.
• Mtn’ Jax Restaurant & Pub, open on Church Street; casual dining; open for lunch and dinner; live music on weekends.
• Ruckers: open on Church Street; upscale antique shop in the former Social Services building.
• Uptown Sweets: on Church Street; soft opening was Aug. 23; bakery specializing in cupcakes.
• Marshalls: Liberty Fair Mall; opening set for Oct. 24.
• Teddy Mountain: opened in spring in Collinsville; like a “Build-a Bear.”
• Dippers: new permanent location and expansion.
• Daily Grind: new location on Church Street with drive-through.
Heath also gave a report about various activities among the EDC’s divisions.
In the EDC’s tourism division, he said Heather Hoffman has been hired as Visitor Center associate. The tourism division has worked with Three Scale Strategy to develop an interactive-online map for Martinsville-Henry County that should be in operation soon. The tourism division conducted 12 client meetings and site visits.
The tourism division hosted a quilt shop rally, with 450 people attending. Also, 620 guests checked in at the Visitor Center in July. Social media views increased.
The research division handled seven third-party requests for information, and it researched, purchased and installed a time-lapse camera at the New College Institute construction site to better show/tell the story of the construction and the training that will be provided, Heath said. The division also created a brochure of the Hooker Cloverleaf Building, which now is on the market, and uploaded it to the YesMartinsville.com website.
The small, minority and entrepreneurial business division conducted six existing industry site visits, held two training workshops and closed two marketing co-op grants totaling $1,464: $494 to Select Auctioneering for promotional items and logo design and $970 to Mollies Originals for a television commercial, Heath said.
That division, in its retail recruitment efforts, is continuing to review profiles from Retail Tenant Directory with space requirements of 2,000 or less.
The marketing/recruiting division conducted four existing industry visits and is working with 12 active prospects, Heath said. The division also is continuing to plan and coordinate Commonwealth Laminating’s grand opening/open house at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Heath also said he hopes ground will be broken in the next 30 days for the new shell building project at Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.