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Posted on: August 12, 2019

Community Heart & Soul Program is a First Step in Revitalization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Community Heart & Soul Program is a First Step in Revitalization Through New Affiliate Status With Virginia Main Street


Town of Bowling Green

P.O. Box 468

Bowling Green, VA 22427

(804) 633-6212

Contact: Jo-Elsa Jordan, Town of Bowling Green; Events & Economic Development Coordinator

Email

(804) 516-5045 (Office/Cell)


Bowling Green, VA. – August 9, 2019; As a new Affiliate of the Virginia Main Street (VMS) program, the Town of Bowling Green is launching a revitalization program through the Orton Foundation called Community Heart & Soul which focuses on building stronger, healthier and more economically vibrant towns across America. Community Heart & Soul was developed by Orton as a catalyst for positive change in towns and small cities. By actively seeing the collective wisdom of all residents, including those whose voices are often missing, Community Heart & Soul brings people together to build stronger, healthier and more economically vibrant communities. While Orton boasts 70 towns across the nation to have successfully completed or engaged in the program, the Town of Bowling Green is one of the first municipalities in the Commonwealth to participate in Community Heart & Soul.

Seeing a need for economic growth, a group of local business owners approached the Town of Bowling Green about becoming an affiliate of Virginia Main Street, a community economic development program through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Because the Bowling Green Virginia Main Street (BGVMS) group was new and in the early stages of organizing, the Town of Bowling Green agreed to submit two applications to DHCD on their behalf. The first application was for an Affiliate grant in the amount of $7,000 which will be used in part to establish a website, along with legal fees associated with becoming a 501(c) 3 non-profit. The second application submitted to DHCD was for BGVMS to be recognized as an Affiliate of VMS. Anticipating acceptance of the VMS Affiliate status, on July 11, 2019, the Bowling Green Town Council voted in favor of a resolution to support participation in Community Heart & Soul.

Mayor Jason Satterwhite stated, “The Town of Bowling Green is happy to see this level of participation and engagement from local business owners and volunteers. The program will only be successful if it’s collaboration between government, business owners, local organizations and residents. We hope this resolution sends a message that our local government is fully supportive in seeing Bowling Green thrive.”

On July 24, 2019 at the VMS Downtown Intersection Conference in Lynchburg, VA, the Town of Bowling Green was awarded Affiliate status and Affiliate grant funding in full.

Mark Gaines, who serves on Town Council and is also a member of BGVMS and a business owner in town, stated, “Getting established as an independent non-profit and having the resources to be able to do that was a fundamental step toward bigger things. The next step is launching Community Heart & Soul and getting our community involved.”

The Community Heart & Soul is not a turnkey program, but rather a process that is broken into four phases and takes up to two years to complete. The early phases focus on volunteer recruitment, setting goals and identifying what matters most to a broad mix of people in the community. Mike Manns of BGVMS stated, “We’re inviting anyone in the Bowling Green and Caroline County community that has an interest in the revitalization of our town to join us. It’s important for the people in our community to know that their feedback matters and we’re here to listen. We need everyone’s involvement in order to create a sustainable vision for Bowling Green.”

BGVMS will have a booth at Music on the Green held every Friday in August and the first two Friday’s in September from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Members of the community are encouraged to come out and learn more about what Community Heart & Soul looks like in Bowling Green.

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About Orton Family Foundation: The Orton Family Foundation is focused on building stronger, healthier and more economically vibrant towns and small cities across America. Founded in Vermont in 1995, with offices in Vermont and Colorado, the foundation devoted more than a decade to working with small towns to create a community development model that helps build trust and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities. Community Heart & Soul projects are underway across the country creating positive change that is resident-driven and recognizes the value in the unique character of each place and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there.


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