Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Online Survey Launched to Determine Space Needs for Area Artists, Arts Organizations and Creative Businesses

The City of Richmond is partnering with CultureWorks, the Cameron Foundation and City of Petersburg to conduct a major online survey of artists, individuals involved with arts organizations and creative businesses in the region to determine the feasibility of creating one or more multi-use arts facilities. The survey will conclude on September 5, 2014.

This effort represents a collaboration of multiple partners, including The Cameron Foundation, Artspace Projects, CultureWorks, and the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. Artspace Projects, the nation’s leading developer for the arts, will use the survey to identify the types and number of spaces needed by those who are part of the area’s creative economy. The results of the survey will help Artspace Projects determine the size of the market in Richmond and Petersburg region for affordable live/work housing, studio and public space of various kinds.

The survey is the second phase of a scope of work that began last year when an Artspace Projects team conducted preliminary feasibility visits in Richmond and Petersburg. If the survey identifies a market for one or more Artspace Projects developments and the community decides to proceed, survey results will inform both the project concept and site selection as well as provide data on affordability. The survey results will also impact specific design and programmatic decisions, such as square footage, parking spaces, types of shared creative spaces to include, rent levels, etc. Artists who take the survey will have the option of being among the first to be informed of project developments, including leasing opportunities.

Additional information about the survey is available at www.creativespacesurvey.org, where interested artists, arts organizations and creative businesses are encouraged to take the survey.

“This project has something to offer residents who are involved with a creative pursuit or organization as it is a unique tool that can help the City revitalize and inject positive energy into some of our most underinvested neighborhoods,” said Lee Downey, director of the City of Richmond’s Department of Economic and Community Development. “Growing the creative economy will not only help grow the overall local economy, but also make it more diverse and more resilient to economic downturns.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

RVA Fireworks on the James Postponed Until Saturday, July 5

UPDATE: RVA Fireworks on the James has been postponed until Saturday, July 5. 

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that, for the fourth year in a row, there will be a free fireworks display on downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront on Thursday, July 3 as part of the City’s 4th of July celebration.

“RVA Fireworks on the James” (www.fireworksonthejames.com), an event produced by the City of Richmond and Venture Richmond and funded by Dominion and MWV will be held on Brown’s Island on July 3 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“Richmond’s strong business climate is anchored by companies like Dominion and MWV who support their community in a way in which anyone and everyone can benefit,” said Mayor Jones. “Our thanks go out to these companies for underwriting a world-class fireworks show.”

The event will feature entertainment by local youth performers. New to the performance line-up will be the Latin Ballet of Virginia. SPARC (the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community), the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Richmond Ballet’s “Minds in Motion” are returning performers.

Entertainment and food vendors will be on Brown’s Island, and the public is invited to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to enjoy music during the summer evening and see the fireworks that will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m.

“Dominion is proud to once again work with MWV, Venture Richmond and the City to bring fireworks downtown for the enjoyment of thousands of area residents,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This display is now a tradition for many families celebrating our nation’s birth, and we could not be more pleased to offer this event using our most treasured, historic river as a backdrop.”

John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of MWV said, "The July 3 fireworks show has become a great Richmond tradition and we are looking forward to seeing everyone on the riverfront for the celebration."

Fireworks will be provided by Fireworks by Grucci. Known as the "Top Name in Fireworks in the World," Grucci is a family-owned and operated company headquartered on Long Island, New York, with production and distribution facilities in Virginia.

The rain date for RVA Fireworks on the James is Saturday, July 5, so as not to interfere with other fireworks events sponsored by the City at Dogwood Dell and at the Diamond.

Monday, June 30, 2014

City Offices Closed on Independence Day

In observance of Independence Day, City government offices, including City Hall, will be closed on Friday, July 4, 2014. City offices will reopen at regular business hours on Monday, July 7, 2014.

The Independence Day closings include all branches of the Richmond Public Libraries and all City community centers. All City libraries will reopen on Saturday, July 5 while all City community centers will reopen on Monday, July 7.

Refuse collection will not be performed on Friday as the city’s Solid Waste Management Division will also be closed.

The East Richmond Road Convenience Center and Hopkins Road Transfer Stations are also closed on Friday, July 4. Each facility will resume its normal schedule on Saturday, July 5.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Volunteers Needed for the 2014 Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors Program

Through the City of Richmond’s Neighbor-To-Neighbor initiative, the Washington Redskins are seeking 250 volunteers to serve as Fan Experience Ambassadors or Security Ambassadors during training camp this summer. Training camp will begin on July 24 and conclude on August 11 and is held at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, 2401 West Leigh Street.

There will be two shifts for both types of ambassadors. For Fan Experience Ambassadors, the morning shift will be from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the afternoon shift will be from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. For Security Ambassadors, the morning shift will be from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the afternoon shift will be from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a few dates with only a single practice which may result in only one shift.

“This is an incredible opportunity to become a Richmond Training Camp Ambassador and promote civic pride by providing a positive visitor experience at the 2014 training camp,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Last year our Ambassadors helped showcase our city and its many amenities. They represented the face of Richmond and we received an overwhelming positive response about their help and assistance in and around the facility.”

Richmond Training Camp Ambassadors who volunteer for a certain benchmark number of shifts, will receive awards, including a top award of attending the August 18, 2014 preseason game at FedEx Field.

Preference will be given to individuals who can commit to volunteer to higher number of shifts. For a complete list of details about this fantastic volunteer opportunity please visit www.richmondgov.com/NeighborToNeighbor/documents/volunteerTrainingCampAmbassadorsProgram.pdf.

To register to become a Richmond Training Camp Ambassador, please visit www.richmondgov.com/NeighborToNeighbor/documents/N2N_Volunteer_Opportunity_Training_Camp_Ambassadors_Program.pdf.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Richmond Earns Top Ranking for Small Business Friendliness

The City of Richmond recently received recognition for being a national leader in overall small business friendliness. Finishing as the 10th best city, Richmond earned an A grade for its small business friendly policies and earned an A+ for the friendliness of its licensing rules.

“Receiving this honor acknowledges the City’s continued efforts to provide quality resources to our local businesses,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Helping entrepreneurs and local businesses grow and thrive is central to the City’s anti-poverty strategy. By being a ‘business-friendly’ city, we are also creating local jobs and advancing our neighborhood revitalization efforts.” 

Thumbtack, a consumer service headquartered in San Francisco, partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to conduct a survey of more than 12,000 small businesses nationwide. The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners to determine the most business-friendly locations.

Some of the key findings for Richmond include:

Richmond earned an A+ for the ease of starting a business, and was the easiest place in the southern United States to start one, improving from a B+ last year.

Richmond excelled in the friendliness of its licensing and its environmental regulations, earning A+ in both categories.

Richmond was the 6th best city in the nation for starting a small business.

The full survey results are available at http://www.thumbtack.com/va/richmond. Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated most states and 82 cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics that business owners say are critical to a friendly business environment. The full methodology paper can be found at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b8u0zjwcc99oews/thumbtack%202014%20final%20methodology%20paper.pdf.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on the Passing of Ray Boone

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement in respect to the passing of Richmond Free Press founder, publisher and editor Raymond H. Boone, Sr.:

“The passing of Ray Boone really marks the end of a personality who was an integral part of our city. His stalwart support for the black community, for economic justice and fairness paved the way for change in so many ways. As Founder/Editor/Publisher of the Richmond Free Press, week after week, he offered many a window into the world of black Richmond. He provided visibility for people who might otherwise be invisible to some. He voiced concerns and desires in ways that might not otherwise have gotten expressed. When I think of Ray, the word that comes to mind for me is ‘crusader.’ It’s clear to me that Ray Boone was a giant of a personality that won’t soon be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time of loss.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mayor Addresses Recent Incidents of Crimes Involving Children

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic addressed media today regarding recent incidents of crimes involving children. The following are Mayor Jones’ remarks as prepared for delivery for today’s press briefing.

Thank you for joining me here this morning.

I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances, but I’m here with Police Chief Tarasovic to talk about some of the challenges we’ve been facing recently.

As Mayor, one of the standards I’ve set is for prompt notification – no matter what time of day or night – when there is a major crime incident in the city and incidents involving children. Over time, I’ve taken calls from our chief at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, 4:00 a.m. in the morning, and at various other times.

It’s horrible when I receive the calls that a tragedy has occurred somewhere in our city. The only thing worse is the Police Chief having to make the call to report in on something tragic that has sadly occurred. Today, I feel that I’ve been getting too many of those calls lately, and that’s what I’m here to speak about.

I want to first thank our Police Chief and the men and women of our police force for the hard work they have been doing. They are often on the scene of these incidents in less than a minute. They have a strong case-closing rate and have actually improved our overall crime statistics in recent years. They do a fine job of standing for excellence, integrity and justice.

But we must do more.

In February, a 7-year old was struck by a random bullet. In May, a 5-year old was struck. This past weekend, a 2-year old.

No child should grow up gathering memories of being shot in their neighborhood. That is unacceptable, and I am outraged.

We should all be outraged at this and we must all recognize that this is not just a policing problem, this is a community problem.

What I want to do today is call on the community to help us. Rise up against this type of behavior. If you see something, say something.

We’ve got to combat this together.

I can’t stress enough the importance of the community’s involvement in our efforts. For example, our efforts at sorting out what happened this past weekend when the 23 month old child was shot were greatly aided by the help of neighbors - neighbors who wanted the correct information to be known.

But we still have several cases of children being harmed where no one has come forward with information.  Cases where many people were present and know what happened, but have chosen not to get involved.

I implore you to take a stand and get involved. Take a stand against criminal activity in your communities.

Now there are several things we are continuing to work on to improve safety in our communities.

  • Our community policing model is designed to forge relationships with the police in neighborhoods. We’ve actually intensified our community policing model.
  • Police Chief Tarasovic has also recently reinstituted the sector community meetings, the first of which was held this past Saturday.
  • These problem-solving workshops are designed to help everyone work together and to give the public an opportunity to voice concerns, come up with solutions and craft a plan of action.
  • Get involved with these meetings as they come up in your communities. We are going to also use reverse 911 calls for upcoming meetings to help ensure that people know about these meetings and are more likely to get involved.
  • We continue to work to get illegal guns off the street – a major factor as it relates to violent crime. Since the 22nd of May, our police force got 14 illegal guns off the streets over a 9 day period.  And we must do everything we can to close loopholes and get illegal guns off the streets – an effort I’ve joined over 1,000 Mayor in as a part of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns.
  • In June, we will be getting assistance from the State with our annual Fugitive and Firearms Initiative. Every year our police department seizes large numbers of illegal guns with the help of area law enforcement partners. Last year 146 weapons were taken off of the street. The effort also focuses on locating persons wanted for crimes.
  • We continue our community walks – door to door. I’ve participated in past walks and will be participating in more.  This provides an opportunity for us to go directly to the public, to hear concerns, provide information, and to gather ideas.
  • Our faith leaders remain active – working to build a sense of community and to help with healing and nurturing troubled areas of our city. Embrace these faith leaders and work with them to build better neighborhoods.
Our efforts have been consistent and working in many ways – thankfully. And I have no doubt that these efforts are saving somebody’s life.

Now I think we all know that when it comes to crime and criminal activity, there is no instant panacea and there never will be. But if we work together, we can strengthen our ability to prevent rather than simply solve crimes. And one of the things that I want the community to understand is that we must address this issue on all fronts.

One of the reasons I’ve focused so heavily on poverty mitigation and economic development strategies for our city is because I know that crime is, in large part, inextricably a symptom of poverty. Our city is paying a heavy economic and social price for cramming the poor into concentrated areas. As Mayor, my job is to work to steer us in the direction that will create quality of life for everyone. And we are consistently working on those things that will lead to improved workforce training and job opportunities, better educational outcomes and community schools, transportation options, and redevelopment of public housing. All of these things are preventative responses to crime and we must continue to work for those gains.

But we also must start right where we are and there are several things every individual can do right now:

  • Get to know the police officers who patrol your neighborhood.
  • Attend those neighborhood meetings hosted by your city council representatives or Richmond police.
  • Talk to young people about how they should conduct themselves and encourage your local high school to invite police in to get to know the students, for example.
  • And, if you see something, say something. Silence only empowers the wrong doers.
Communities can and must be proactive. And I have that same message across the board – be it incidents involving children, or robberies, or any incidents of crime in our city.

I recently met with merchants from Broad Street after the Victoria Jewelers Homicide.  I met with Muhammad Baig’s father. I felt and saw his grief. We’ve reached out to the families of the children recently harmed, like Marty Cobb’s family. And I make it a point to have more direct involvement when minors are involved.

These senseless acts of violence tear at the very fabric of our city, but as I tell everyone, we cannot give in. The only way we will succeed is if we work together, take ownership of what is happening in our streets, and not stand for it or give into it.