Wednesday, December 28, 2011

City Receives Revitalization Grant for Leigh Street Armory

Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the City of Richmond has been awarded a $600,000 Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) grant towards the redevelopment of the Leigh Street Armory, located at 122 West Leigh Street in historic Jackson Ward. The Leigh Street Armory grant was one of six grant announcements made by the Governor today.

The Leigh Street Armory Redevelopment, an initiative of the City’s ArtBusiness Richmond reinvestment program targeting the emerging Downtown arts district, will transform this vacant property into the new home of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Renovation plans call for construction of a new addition to the rear of the Armory, which would add much needed space for museum exhibits, community education and events, storage, offices and other purposes.

“I would like to thank Governor McDonnell for this grant award as these funds will significantly help advance this $3 million public/private revitalization project,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Restoration of this property will further advance the City’s revitalization of Jackson Ward, which occupies a vital place in the social and economic history of African Americans. It will also enhance Richmond’s ongoing efforts to expand tourism while developing our city’s cultural offerings. Additionally, it will help give meaningful use to an architectural icon.”

Second District City Councilman Charles Samuels added, “I am excited that the State recognizes the importance of African-American heritage in the city.”

“These grants will leverage local and private resources to achieve redevelopment of these derelict structures,” said Governor McDonnell. “The funds will create a catalyst for long-term employment opportunities and on-going physical and economic revitalization to attract private sector investment to these distressed communities.”

IRF provides grants for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in distressed communities. Potential IRF grant projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with a high level of blight, identification of impediments to economic development efforts, alignment with regional or local strategies, availability of matching resources, level of community distress where the property is located and an identified and feasible end use. The maximum award was $600,000.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

City Launches “Project Clean Move” to Help Students, Landlords and Property Owners during Student Relocations

The City is initiating a new multi-pronged program called Project Clean

Move. It is designed to keep neighborhoods clean and help students, landlords and property owners during student relocations. Project Clean Move encourages students to get an early start in planning their move and seeks to educate and bring awareness about laws related to illegal dumping and trash accumulation as well as recycling efforts.

The program begins on January 1, 2012.

The Department of Public Works is working with The Salvation Army, Central Virginia Foodbank, Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Fan District Association on Project Clean Move to provide information

on available resources, such as recycling locations and places to donate clothing and non-perishable food. The Department of Public Works will continue to put roll-off dumpsters in neighborhoods near Virginia Commonwealth University in six week intervals, beginning in late April and again in late July, during times when students are


Registered property owners in the Fan, Carver and Oregon Hill neighborhoods are being notified via mail about Project Clean Move. They are encouraged to monitor their tenant’s disposal habits and curtail any instances of illegal dumping. There will be strict enforcement of City laws related to illegal dumping and trash accumulation.

You can find additional information by visiting the Project Clean Move web page

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

City Announces Emergency Preparedness and Response Enhancement Strategies

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and 9th District City Councilman Doug Conner today announced recommendations to improve the City’s emergency preparedness and response strategies. The Office of Emergency Management, under the leadership of Emergency Management Coordinator Anthony McLean, has been working with Councilman Conner since Hurricane Irene in August to identify areas where the City can enhance the overall emergency response efforts for residents during an emergency. Today’s report reflects the results of that review.

“It is the responsibility of government to ensure the safety, health and well-being of the residents it serves in any given situation, commented Mayor Jones. “While City workers did a good job in responding to Hurricane Irene, in any disaster there is always room for improvement. I want to thank Councilman Doug Conner for working so closely with us to undertake this review of our emergency response efforts and to help ensure that we capitalize on all lessons learned.”

“I felt compelled to assist in this effort due to the feeling of helplessness that I felt during Hurricane Irene, said Councilman Doug Conner. “I really had no method of knowing where the people with the most needs were located. Strategically addressing matters like how to get information in light of HIPPA laws, and other issues surrounding shelters and communications will help us better address community needs in the future.”

The focus areas for improvement include: relationships with partners, emergency shelters, communication, and emergency preparedness education for residents.

The City has updated its Citizens Emergency Preparedness Guidebook, created emergency preparedness refrigerator magnets in English and Spanish, and an emergency preparedness video is now available online and on the City’s government access station, channel 17, for residents.

To view the updated guidebook, please visit: Citizens Emergency Preparedness Guidebook 2011.

To view the Emergency Preparedness 101 video, please visit: Emergency Preparedness 101.

For more information, please visit:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mayor Jones, City Council and Richmond Public Schools Kick off MLK Construction

Mayor Dwight C. Jones kicked off the demolition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School today in preparation for the construction of a new, state of the art, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School (MLK). Mayor Jones, joined by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Yvonne Brandon, MLK Principal Valerie Harris along with City Council members and School Board Members from the 6th and 7th districts, watched as an excavating machine took a chunk out of one of the buildings that will come down.

“Today is a clear indication of the progress that we’ve made toward building new schools,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “With the start of our construction today, we are on our way to opening this new school in January of 2014.”

The Jones Administration has broken ground on two new elementary schools since taking office and today’s action was the first taken on a new middle school. A new high school is also planned.

MLK was originally constructed in 1964. Mayor Jones listed out the amenities the new school will have, including:

A dual wireless system throughout the building,

Fully ADA compliant,

Fully integrated HVAC system to include air conditioning,

Dedicated science classrooms,

A dedicated community room,

Modern technology to include Smart boards in each classroom,

LEED Silver rating,

Fully renovated auditorium,

A clinic and pre-K center.

Participating in today’s demolition ceremony were 6th District City Council Member and Council Vice President Ellen Robinson, 7th District City Council Member Cynthia Newbille, 6th District School Board Member Chandra Smith, 7th District School Board Member Don Coleman, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Yvonne Brandon and MLK Principal Valerie Harris.

Click here to view the start of building demolition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mayor Jones Issues Statement Regarding State Board of Corrections Approval of City Jail Plans

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement regarding the State Board of Corrections unanimous vote approving the City’s amendments to the 2009 Community Based Corrections Plan and Planning Study. The Board of Corrections also approved reimbursement funding of 25% from the Commonwealth of Virginia for all eligible costs relating to the construction of the new Justice Center in the city of Richmond.

"I thank the Board of Corrections for this unanimous vote today. I have fought hard to reach this point where we can move forward with the construction of our new Justice Center. I want to thank Sheriff C.T. Woody and those members of Richmond City Council that have stood with us. We are especially pleased that our dedicated law enforcement officers, social workers, clergy, attorneys, prisoners and their families will now have more humane conditions in the very near future.

“We’ve made the necessary adjustments to our plans and it is now clear that our plans meet all compliance and safety standards. Today’s unanimous vote ensures that we can now move forward with this important project quickly and that the new Justice Center will become a reality.

“I’ve kept my promise in that I did not want to build an institution that simply encouraged us to keep warehousing people. The plans that were approved today reflect my commitment and vision of enhanced alternatives to incarceration while at the same time addressing the needs of those being housed at the jail.

"I want to thank everyone that has joined in our vision for a humane facility. We've been struggling with the need for a new jail for more than a decade. With the Board’s vote today, we can stop talking and start building.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mayor Issues Statement on Letter Sent to Richmond Tea Party

Mayor Dwight C. Jones has issued the following statement in response to the letter sent by the City's Department of Finance to the Richmond Tea Party, and was subsequently released by the Richmond Tea Party to the public:

"In response to the recent allegations regarding a letter sent to the Richmond Tea Party, the City of Richmond did not target the Richmond Tea Party by sending them a routine letter about overdue tax filings.

"In March 2011, a list of more than 700 potentially non-compliant accounts was generated in the City’s Finance Department, by an automated financial system. Since the list was generated, it has been manually reviewed for accuracy. As part of this continuing process, more than 300 letters have been sent to those entities determined to be out of compliance for tax filing or payments. This letter means that either returns have not been filed or taxes are owed. Due to confidentiality laws, the City is prohibited from releasing any details about an individual taxpayer.

"It is unfortunate that the appearance of this routine letter coincides with a separate request from the Richmond Tea Party for a reimbursement of permit fees. These issues are separate and distinct."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mayor Jones Announces Major Expansion of Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the expansion of Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc. (HDL) in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. This major expansion will occur in two Phases with the redevelopment of Biotech 5 and 3. Phase 1 will begin in early 2012 with a capital investment of $38.5 million in building redevelopment and machinery and equipment and the creation of an additional 353 net new jobs. Phase 2 will occur after the completion of Phase 1 and will include an additional capital investment of $30 million and the creation of 300 additional net new jobs.

“This $68.5 million capital investment and 653 net new jobs will bring HDL’s employment to over 950 employees and makes HDL a major employer in the city of Richmond,” said Mayor Jones. “This is a great example of the importance of cultivating our existing business base, and we are proud that HDL has chosen the city of Richmond to expand and grow their business.”

HDL, a CAP accredited leader in health management, offers a comprehensive test menu of risk factors and biomarkers for cardiovascular and related diseases. The company’s systematic approach identifies factors contributing to disease and provides a basis for effective treatment, allowing physicians to more effectively manage patients. As an added value, patients receive a personalized overview of their risk factors along with intensive counseling from expert Health Coaches at no additional cost, improving compliance and enhancing satisfaction.

“One in two people die from heart disease every year. This is more than the next seven causes of death combined, including cancer. Adding to the challenge, traditional cholesterol testing fails to identify up to 40-50% of the population at risk for cardiovascular disease and death,” said Tonya Mallory, President and CEO of HDL. “Despite these alarming statistics, we can beat cardiovascular and related diseases, and we’re proving it every day at our advanced laboratory in Richmond, Virginia. Our newest expansion marks the success of not only Health Diagnostic Laboratory, but the growth of the Life Science community throughout Richmond, and Virginia as a whole.”

“Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. is one of the most dynamic and exciting companies to ever start in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park”, said Robert T. Skunda, President and CEO. “The new $46 million building redevelopment accommodates their continued growth and will add significantly to the Research Park’s critical mass and growing scientific community.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

City Began Pilot Installation of Bike Sharrows

~Pavement markings to improve bicycling conditions on roads~

Bicycling in the city is about to become easier and safer for Richmond cyclists. On Saturday the city began installing the first of approximately 80 lane miles of bike sharrows that will be placed along specific corridors in the city. The pilot corridors where the sharrows are being installed include Meadow Street from Broad Street to Cary Street and Harrison Street from Broad Street to Idlewood, representing about three lanes miles of bike

sharrows thus far.

Sharrows are shared lane markings that are utilized to improve bicycling conditions on roads where designated bike lanes are either infeasible or inappropriate due to traffic conditions. Sharrows are a simple, yet visible way of improving conditions for bicyclists while also reinforcing safe and appropriate bicycling habits which in turn make bicyclists more predictable

in mixed traffic conditions. The pilot sharrows are located at regular intervals in both directions.

“These marking will remind motorists that the road is shared with cyclists; encourage motorists to pass safely and should reduce wrong-way bicycling,” said Mayor Jones. “The mild weekend weather allowed us to move forward with getting some markings on the ground which helps with a phased-in approach to introducing sharrows in our city as both motorist and cyclists begin to make the adjustment. I am pleased that we can begin creating awareness and understanding of the functions of sharrows in advance of the more widespread installation that will take place in the spring of 2012.”

Sharrows consist of a large chevron and bicycle symbol. From start to finish the project will cost about $775 thousand, with most of the funds coming from the Federal Government grant for

“congestion mitigation air quality” projects. Funds for sharrows are also in the city’s capital improvement plan for Fiscal Year 2012, which was approved by Richmond City Council following the Mayor’s Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission recommendations.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

City and Cigna Collaborate to Host Richmond Communities of Health Forum

Through a collaboration with Cigna, the city of Richmond hosted a Communities of Health Forum - Better Together: Collaborating to Achieve a Healthy Richmond, yesterday at the Omni Richmond Hotel. The goal of the forum was to identify and prioritize high-leverage and sustainable actions to further enhance existing programs and eliminate key barriers to health, including social determinants of health.

“Upon taking office, I quickly became aware of the disparity in health care resources and outcomes for many of Richmond’s most economically challenged residents. The discussion and information gathered within this health forum will further aid my administration’s focus on the specific needs of Richmond residents,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I would like to thank Cigna and Dr. Frank Brown for their partnership with the city of Richmond and their commitment to improving communities by addressing health disparities.”

“We know that it is important to work closely with communities and local leaders to identify problems and work together to find solutions that will lead to improved health for the citizens of Richmond,” added Frank Brown, M.D., market medical executive for Cigna's Mid-Atlantic region. “We are pleased that we can collaborate with the city on this dynamic social initiative to change healthcare.”

During yesterday’s forum, attendees discussed the top five recommendations from Mayor Jones’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy and explored opportunities of building support and engagement amongst residents, businesses, and non-profit communities. The forum detailed the next steps of developing and sustaining a healthy Richmond to include the detailing of needed resources, importance of preventative healthcare and expanding the capacity of service providers. Forum participants will discuss the implementation of these action steps during future meetings.

The Communities of Health Forum is part of Mayor Jones continued effort to improve the health and well being of city residents. The Mayor has launched several city initiatives, commissions, and task forces including the Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Commission; Breast Feeding Commission; Food Policy Task Force; and the recent Healthy Richmond Campaign.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

City Expands Use and Reach of GIS Information

~New web site shares more GIS maps to user browsers and on mobile devices~

The city of Richmond has launched an updated web site for the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program. GIS is used to manage and analyze the geospatial information that applies to government operations and many aspects of decision making in government, business, and the community. The new web site was recently show-cased as part of an Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) seminar for GIS professionals here in Richmond at the Omni Hotel. ESRI is the world-leading GIS software vendor, whose software the city has based its GIS on.

The new site features: (1) improved presentation and organization of GIS content, (2) new GIS content, (3) a new approach to sharing GIS maps which includes mobile support, and (4) new support for maps published in collaboration with the community. The updated web site increases the amount of GIS information available to residents and the business community by publishing a multitude of interactive GIS maps. The online, interactive maps are categorized under topics such as Community & Economic Development, Transportation & Engineering, and Real Estate & Assessment, to name just a few. The city expects to author more maps, content, and categories of information over time.

GIS Real Estate-based mapping applications that were previously available on the city’s web site are still in place and remain among the most popular stops for visitors to Unlike many localities, the city continues to make most common GIS data available free of charge to the community via FTP download. This service is still available and is now referenced through the new Gallery section. “The city recognizes that GIS information is used to promote and advance the city, so our new site strives to make it more accessible and to make it increasingly available,” said GIS Coordinator Steve Waldron with the city’s Department of Information Technology.

The Gallery provides the essential portal into Richmond maps and information. It provides interactive maps that can be accessed on the web or even from mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. The site now supports most major mobile platforms including iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Android.

While the Gallery organizes the addition of more interactive GIS maps, the Submit Your App section invites techies and users from outside of the organization to share their own GIS applications with the city. These applications may also be considered for posting in the city’s Gallery. Essentially, GIS users throughout the Richmond region will be able to create and share their own spatial information with other residents through the site.

Visit Richmond’s new GIS site here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mayor Jones Elected to the 2012 National League of Cities Board of Directors

Mayor Dwight C. Jones was elected to the 2012 Board of Directors of the National League of Cities (NLC) on Saturday, November 12, at the conclusion of the Congress of Cities and Exposition in Phoenix, AZ. NLC’s Board meets throughout the year and leads the organization by shaping policies and priorities and directing the advocacy, research and membership activities of NLC.

“Being elected to serve the nations’ cities and towns is a high honor,” said Mayor Jones. “I have been actively involved on the board of Virginia Municipal League, and I have a great appreciation for the power local officials have when our collective voices come together on critical issues.”

NLC also elected new officers for the coming year, including Bluffton, IN, Mayor Ted Ellis as President; Avondale, AZ, Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers as First Vice President; and Saint Paul, MN, Mayor Chris Coleman as Second Vice President.

In addition, 22 other new board members were elected during the meeting. The full Board consists of 40 local elected officials and state municipal league directors.

Elected to the Board of Directors for two-year terms:

· Dwight C. Jones, Mayor, Richmond, VA

· Tennell Atkins, Council Member, Dallas, TX

· David Baker, Mayor, Kenmore, WA

· Dan Besse, Council Member, Winston-Salem, NC

· Nancy J. Chaney, Mayor, Moscow, ID

· Sandra Colvin Roy, Council Member, Minneapolis, MN

· Richard Byrd Conlin, Councilmember, Seattle, WA

· Joy Cooper, Mayor, Hallandale Beach, FL

· Doug Echols, Mayor, Rock Hill, SC

· Dennis Kavanaugh, Councilmember, Mesa, AZ

· Kevin J. Kramer, Councilman, Louisville, KY

· Randon K. Lane, Mayor, Murrieta, CA

· Garret Nancolas, Mayor, Caldwell, ID

· Robert D. Newell, Mayor, Parkersburg, W.VA

· Bernita Sims, Council Member, High Point, NC

· Betty L. Taylor, Council President, Eugene, OR

· Matt Zone, Council Member, Cleveland, OH

Elected to the Board of Directors for a one-year term:

Murry K. Witcher, Alderman, North Little Rock, AR

Jesse Matthews, Council Member, Bessemer, AL

State Municipal League Directors elected to the Board:

· Peter Baynes, New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials

· Mike McCarty, Association of Washington Cities

· Yvonne Taylor, South Dakota Municipal League

· George Wright, Delaware League of Local Governments

The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

Friday, November 4, 2011

City's Office of Minority Business Development Offers Free Training

The City’s Office of Minority Business Development (OMBD) is proud to offer technical assistance and training activities on a variety of topics, as well as networking opportunities for minority and emerging small businesses.

As contracting and development opportunities in Richmond increase, OMBD remains committed to providing maximum opportunities for minority, disadvantaged and emerging businesses. It is the agency’s mission to help these businesses participate in the full array of contracting opportunities that the city of Richmond has to offer.

“We remain committed to having an inclusive environment that can lead to an increase in the number of minority-owned and emerging businesses that participate in city projects,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

While OMBD's programming encourages minorities to start new businesses, the agency is equally focused on ensuring that existing minority and emerging businesses take the necessary steps to achieve substantive growth. Programs are geared to inform, educate and motivate minority and emerging firms to become more involved in City procurement opportunities as well as create opportunities that enable contractors and service providers to build strategic alliances.

Training and seminar topics vary and the following provides a brief overview:

How to Start a Business
Overview of essential elements of starting a business, such as business planning, marketing
and financials, how and where to file for a business license and obtaining various permits

Developing a Business Plan
Details the importance and explains the various components of the business plan

Understanding Procurement Solicitations
Details the various types of City solicitations: RFP, IFB, RFQ, Sole Source, CM@Risk
and The Richmond Supply Schedule

Advantages of Teaming and Partnerships
Introduces the concept and various types of partnerships and teaming including
joint venture opportunities

Do the Right Thing! Budgeting, Bookkeeping, and Taxes

Details various business structures, accounting methods and the information needed
to develop a business budget

Emergency Preparation and Continuity for Businesses
Focuses on Emergency Preparedness & response and Fundamentals of
business continuity planning

Preparing for a Business Loan
Details elements needed to complete a loan package, the role credit ratings play,
and a review of the loan process

Spanish courses are also available. A full schedule of upcoming training sessions and outreach events are available by clicking here or by calling (804) 646-5947.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adaptive Rehabilitation Construction Begins on Broad & Grace Streets

Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined developers Mike Glass and Ron Hunt, managing partners of 214 East Grace Street, LLC, in celebrating the start of an adaptive rehabilitation construction project at 213 East Broad Street and 214 East Grace Street today. As a symbolic mark to the beginning of the construction, the three joined other project stakeholders in knocking down a wall with sledgehammers within the Grace Street property.

“Both of these properties will provide affordable live-work spaces that can accommodate cultural enterprises along our Broad Street corridor and Arts District,” said Mayor Jones. “I commend the efforts of the developers, Mike Glass and Ron Hunt, as they begin the process of bringing life back into these properties.”

The $3.6 million project is a public/private partnership that will feature more than 3,000 square feet of commercial/retail space and 21 affordable rental units once completed. Virginia Community Capital is the primary project lender and will provide construction and permanent financing, with the City of Richmond participating in the project by providing gap financing through the City-wide Revolving Loan Fund. The project is the first and largest to utilize the City-wide Revolving Loan Fund.

“I thank Mayor Jones and Peter Chapman, DCAO of Economic and Community Development, for assisting us with financing as we would have never been able to get this project started without the City’s assistance,” said project developer Mike Glass.

Mayor Jones noted that, “It was my desire to establish a city-wide loan fund of $2 million which would be available to stimulate the revitalization of Richmond’s neighborhoods and promote permanent job creation for low and moderate income residents by helping to bridge the credit gap for independent real estate developers and smaller employers. I am proud to see the funding assist this project as it will strengthen the surrounding area’s emerging identity as a vibrant arts and entertainment district.”

Additionally, Pasture, LLC, has recently closed a loan with the city through the new funding stream for the build out of a restaurant. This deal is part of a $1.5 million adaptive historic tax credit rehabilitation project at 416 East Grace Street, in the old Montaldo’s women’s clothing store. The restaurant construction is currently underway, as all four apartments have been leased and the restaurant is slated to open in November 2011. The restaurant is expected to create several full-time jobs and more than ten part-time jobs in the city of Richmond. The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development is continuing to process other revolving loan applications.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

City Unveils Shockoe Revitalization Strategy

On Tuesday, November 1, the City of Richmond's Department of Economic and Community Development rolled out the Shockoe Revitalization Strategy for the Shockoe Bottom to guide the area's future growth.

The Strategy will build upon previous planning efforts and include up-to-date demographic and economic profiles, a retail gap analysis, and existing and future market competition. The Strategy will provide guidance toward effectively implementing the vision.

Click on the top two images in the link below to see the presentation from yesterday's meeting and the full Shockoe Revitalization Strategy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mayor Jones Announces Healthy Richmond Campaign

Mayor Dwight C. Jones introduced the Healthy Richmond Campaign today during the City’s Employee Health and Safety Fair at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. The Healthy Richmond Campaign is a new City initiative designed to promote the improved health of City employees and residents by addressing the disparities affecting access to health care and health resources in the city of Richmond.

Mayor Jones stated that, “Launching the Healthy Richmond Campaign internally during the City’s Employee Health and Safety Fair presented an excellent opportunity to promote this initiative which includes a comprehensive workplace health promotion program. A public kick-off event is currently being scheduled for next spring. The goal of the Healthy Richmond Campaign is to promote healthier lifestyles and behaviors that will improve individual health and help prevent many of the chronic diseases and illnesses that affect far too many youth and adults in our city.”

The Healthy Richmond Campaign was proposed by the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy, which was established in 2010, to address Mayor Jones’ concerns of the disparity in health outcomes across the Richmond community. The Blue Ribbon Commission researched many factors affecting health in Richmond, and proposed five focus areas to help improve the health and well-being of City residents: Healthy Richmond Campaign to promote healthy lifestyles to the community; health and social equity; behavioral health; medical homes for uninsured; and support for healthcare providers.

Members of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy are working on strategies to impact the identified focus areas. At the same time, several departments within the City’s Human Services division are moving forward in implementing the Healthy Richmond Campaign by engaging the community and encouraging the public to proactively embrace the Healthy Richmond concept by improving and maintaining their health.

The Healthy Richmond Campaign is preparing to conduct various activities and to participate with community events. The campaign involves current City initiatives, commissions, and task forces consisting of: Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Commission; Breast Feeding Commission; Active Seniors and Special Populations; Food Policy Task Force; and the Richmond Lets Move! Initiative.

For more information or to find out how to get involved in the Healthy Richmond Campaign, please call (804) 646-5823.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mayor Applauds RMA Board Vote

~City to receive $62.3 million repayment~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today applauded the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) for voting 11-0 to repay approximately $62.3 million owed to the City of Richmond.

“I am pleased that the RMA has taken this action as it was the right thing for the City and also benefits the RMA. There are many things this administration has been working to set right for the City of Richmond. Where our financial picture is concerned, our paramount goal has been to move us toward AAA bond rating. We have taken several important steps, like changing to twice a year tax collections, which saves $1-3 million per year and eliminating the Broad Street CDA, which saved the City approximately $12 million. Securing this repayment of outstanding debt is a critical piece of our effort to position the City to obtain the desired bond rating.

"As I have said throughout this process, this is a sound financial decision and is in the best interest of the City. The RMA Board has also acted in its best interest fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility. Moreover, getting our money back now does not change the fact that the asset will ultimately revert back to the City nor does it prevent us from exploring other options in the future.

"As we consider the use of these funds, there are some guidelines I feel we should be governed by. These funds can help to repair some of the issues caused by displacement of families and businesses, and we have the opportunity to invest wisely by taking actions like getting our undesignated fund balance to 10% and paying off some of our own outstanding debt.

"As we move forward, I want to stress that we will be working with the residents of our city and City Council as we decide how to best invest this money for our future in a way that is wise, prudent, and generates the greatest return on our investment for our city."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HUD Secretary and Mayor Jones Highlight How American Jobs Act Will Further Expand on Success of Existing Neighborhood Stabilization Efforts

Project Rebuild to Help Stabilize Richmond Home Prices

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones toured the 800 block of North 27th Street in the Church Hill neighborhood to demonstrate how President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild can help stabilize home prices, revitalize neighborhoods, create jobs, and support local economies throughout the City of Richmond.

“Project Rebuild is fundamentally an investment not just in hard hit communities, but also in the hardworking families of Church Hill who have watched their home values plummet on average by $5,000-to-$10,000 simply because they live on a block with a foreclosure sign. The Project Rebuild investment will not only help stabilize individual home prices on the block, but it sends neighbors a hopeful message – we believe in you, we are investing in you, stay here and raise your family,” said Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Our previous neighborhood stabilization efforts have worked and we can see that in neighborhoods like Church Hill, where once stood three foreclosed homes, we now see revitalized properties, new homebuyers and jobs being created,” he added.

"Building unique, healthy and inclusive communities is part of our strategy for becoming a Tier One City, and to succeed we need to marshal all available resources to address issues related to affordable and diverse housing options," said Mayor Jones. "The Neighborhood Stabilization Program has been instrumental in helping us implement the East End Transformation Plan, which we launched last year in partnership with Bon Secours Community Hospital. We've also been able to leverage these dollars for maximum private and non-City investment to help put vacant and derelict properties back to productive use as we are assuming a comprehensive approach to neighborhood economic revitalization. We are encouraged by the federal Administration's decision to establish Project Rebuild, and support full funding of the program."

Recent HUD statistics have shown that communities with neighborhood stabilization investments have seen 67 percent better home sale price changes, 73 percent saw better vacancy rate improvements, and 47 percent saw better home sale and vacancy rate improvements, as compared to similar communities without neighborhood stabilization improvements.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has received over $51 million in previous neighborhood stabilization efforts and municipalities like the City of Richmond could benefit from the proposed $15 billion in funding for Project Rebuild.

The City of Richmond has been allocated $2.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP1) funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to address foreclosed and abandoned properties. Through NSP3, the City of Richmond was allocated a direct grant of $1.25 million and about $300,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s NSP3 program.

Building on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Project Rebuild incorporates new elements such as the inclusion of revitalization of commercial properties and partnerships with for-profit organizations and stronger partnerships with non-profit organizations to an already successful program, and that will help create more jobs and have a much more immediate impact to the local economy.

If approved by Congress, Project Rebuild would invest $15 billion in proven strategies that leverage private capital and expertise to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of properties in communities across the country. Building on the successful ideas developed during the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Project (NSP), Project Rebuild would include the following innovative ideas:

· Allow for the revitalization of commercial properties

· Include For-Profit Entities to Gain Expertise, Leverage Federal Dollars and Speed Program Implementation

· Increase Support for “Land Banking”

· Create Jobs Maintaining Properties and Avoid Community Blight

Project Rebuild will create nearly 200,000 jobs nationwide and is fundamentally an investment not just in hard hit places but also in the families who live there – the millions of homeowners who have seen their property values decline through no fault of their own, just for being near a foreclosed property. Its inclusion in the American Jobs Act reflects President Obama’s belief that rebuilding neighborhoods is essential to rebuilding our economy.

Click here to read HUD's article, Project Rebuild: In Richmond and Columbus, a Case for the American Jobs Act.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Neighborhood Workforce Development Center Opens in the City

Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined City Council Vice-President Ellen Robertson, Fifth Street Baptist Church Pastor F. Todd Gray, and Workforce Investment Board Chair Deborah Wickham, in a ribbon cutting ceremony today to celebrate the opening of the One Stop Resource & Missions Center at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 2800 Third Avenue.

The new share site is the first joint Workforce Development Center in the City of Richmond and will offer services and resources to City residents to better prepare and search for jobs. The center will partner with RESOURCE, the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, to teach classes on résumé writing, interview skills, and networking. Trained volunteers will staff the center and serve as career agents and job coaches for interested residents looking for work.

“We know that many Richmonders are struggling, and it is important for the City to partner with the community to be able to provide centers like this,” said Mayor Jones. “In our region, there are jobs available, but the problem many people are having is they may not have the skills required by the new economy. We want to continue assisting people to improve their skill sets based on what employers are searching for.”

The One Stop Resource & Missions Center is open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fifth Street Baptist Church Clothing Ministry, “Dress for Success” initiative will also provide clothing for individuals to prepare for interviews.

“Having the skills to do the work is just as important as dressing for the part and making that great first impression,” said Mayor Jones.

The One Stop Resource & Missions Center is asking for volunteers and donations to continue the mission and success of the center. For more information or to volunteer for the Workforce Development Center call (804) 321-5115.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

City Pursues Full Repayment from RMA

~Approximately $62.3 million to be voted on by RMA Board~

In a new development related to the City's pursuit of monies owed from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA), the City Administration says it will pursue the full amount owed, rather than the initial arrangement which included an interest rate discount.

In June of this year, Mayor Jones announced a proposal in which the RMA would return funds to the city before the year's end. The amount owed is more than $60 million. The RMA had originally asked for some interest rate forgiveness and the city introduced a paper for City Council consideration that would have foregone about $2 million in debt. Today the Administration acknowledged that current financial market conditions make it likely that the RMA could repay the entire amount with no discount attached.

"Anticipating favorable action by the RMA Board, I am withdrawing Ordinance No. 2011-160," stated Mayor Jones. "I am hopeful that City Council shares my enthusiasm for not only the early repayment of the debt, but the full repayment of the debt."

The Mayor has previously said, "As we consider the use of these funds, there are some guidelines I feel we should be governed by. These funds can help to repair some of the issues caused by displacement of families and businesses, and can also help to move us closer to a AAA bond rating. We have the opportunity to invest wisely by taking actions like getting our undesignated fund balance to 10% and paying off some of our own outstanding debt."

The Administration provided financial data today showing that the return of these funds has no loss in future financial value. The transaction also presents no loss of property rights, and RMA will still transfer the property to the city in the future.

The RMA Board is expected to vote in October.

City Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award From International Economic Development Council

The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development received an Excellence in Economic Development Award for their marketing kit in the category of General Purpose Promotion for communities with populations of 200,000 – 500,000 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The award was presented during the IEDC Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC on September 20.

“I thank the International Economic Development Council for recognizing Richmond with this award as it underscores our efforts to attract and retain both large and small employers, create jobs and preserve our City’s neighborhoods,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Effective marketing is a catalyst to leveraging the numerous attributes of the city and thereby enhancing our economic development activities.”

"We recognize the City of Richmond’s Department of Economic & Community Development for providing successful strategies to promote new standards in economic development in this period of global recovery,” said Dennis Coleman, IEDC chair. “Our awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in communities. They are showing that they are at the forefront of the economic development profession and are using innovative and effective practices that can be replicated in other communities."

In the Fall of 2009, Mayor Jones initiated the consolidation and reorganization of certain City agencies and divisions, to include Economic Development, Real Estate Services, Workforce Development and Community Development, into a single, more comprehensively aligned Department of Economic and Community Development in order to pursue economic growth in a more strategic and competitive manner. The new department did not have the appropriate marketing collateral, therefore an internal taskforce was created to design and produce cohesive marketing material that effectively communicated the City’s assets and programs.

The goal of the general purpose marketing kit is to be a versatile piece that can act as a business attraction kit or welcome kit, be tailored to the specific audience desired, and be of a style and quality that matches well with partner organizations’ marketing collateral that may be included. The pieces are tied together through a theme of “It’s Time”, and the use of the image of the historic Main Street Station clock tower within which the new department is now housed.

The Excellence in Economic Awards program annually recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. The program honors organizations and individuals in 28 categories for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the premier membership organization dedicated to helping economic development professionals create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities and improve the quality of life in their regions. Serving more than 4,500 members, IEDC represents the largest network of economic development professionals in the world. IEDC provides a diverse range of services, including conferences, certification, professional development, publications, research, advisory services and legislative tracking.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facilities Management Investigation Results in Referral to Commonwealth's Attorney

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today the results of an internal investigation the City Administration has conducted of the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) Facilities Management Operations. The investigation was pursued after the City Administration received an internal complaint warranting an assessment of operations, contracted labor, vendor payments, and equipment purchases under the management of that division of public works.

Facilities Management is responsible for maintenance of city facilities and currently represents an annual expenditure of approximately $25 million in equipment purchases and contractor costs. “We’ve found several operational inefficiencies that bring into question the credibility of the existing operation and my level of concern has led me to turn over the results of our investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney for further investigation,” stated Mayor Jones. “We have taken the necessary steps and actions to secure the operations of the division in question, but the level of discrepancies that were found and the potential overpayments that our findings uncovered warrant further investigation and potential legal action.”

“This investigative effort is reflective of the tenets I set in motion under our Well-Managed Government focus area,” continued Mayor Jones. “We have been and will continue to confront the inertia of business as usual and the findings I’m sharing with you today are part of our systematic effort to identify areas needing improvement and to implement change and improved performance throughout city agencies.”

Operational concerns identified within the division include:

· Invoices with inaccuracies, resulting in overpayments to vendors

· Purchase order number changes after invoices had been received

· Non-existent purchase order numbers being issued

· Over-usage of contract labor

· Potential favoritism of certain vendors

The Mayor explained that the investigative effort is proactive in nature and in no way interferes with the ongoing work of the city auditor. “As I’ve indicated from the beginning of this administration, we welcome the work of the auditor as it is the function of the auditor to identify inefficiencies and areas where improvement or corrective action is necessary. We want that office to continue its periodic efforts as this cooperation only furthers our well-managed government effort. We’ve been consistent in following recommendations that come out of that office as appropriate. But at the same time, there is no reason that we can’t be proactive in our own right, where possible, as the auditor does not review operations of every department annually. We seek to always operate in a way that ensures the proper stewardship of the taxpayer’s dollar.”

In an additional disclosure, again related to DPW, the Mayor revealed the interception of several thefts that had recently occurred in the department’s Operations Division. The thefts involved eight spreaders in the department's fleet which are used for the application of salt and sand during snow storms. The spreaders, which had been designated as surplus, were salvaged by two employees of the department. The employees were given the option to make full restitution in the form of payment for the items stolen and to also be terminated from city employment with an agreement not to seek re-employment with the City.

"We contacted the Commonwealth's Attorney about this matter as well, but we chose to give the employees involved an option to make restitution in exchange for sharing all information with management about any employee misconduct," said Mayor Jones. "The Commonwealth Attorney has agreed with this approach understanding that we will seek prosecution if necessary."

"On one level, it is disturbing to me that we continue to uncover such misconduct within city government. It taints the entire operation of over 4,000 employees when a few bad apples continue to make headlines," stated Mayor Jones. "On another level, this shows that we will continue to catch wrongdoers and we will continue to sniff out any operational problems that may exist and to make improvements."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

United States of America Awarded 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships

Richmond, Virginia selected to host global event

Richmond, Virginia has been selected to host the 2015 Road World Championships. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), competitive cycling’s governing body, selected Richmond after a competitive bid process that included the country of Oman.

“Richmond is thrilled to be selected to host the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships, joining a list of great cities like Madrid, Florence and Copenhagen,” said Richmond Mayor, Dwight C. Jones. “Bicycling, for transport and fitness, has been an important focus of my administration. Hosting the World Championships will help bring Richmond one step closer to being one of the world’s great bicycling cities.”

Cycling’s pinnacle event, the annual Road World Cycling Championships provide a rare opportunity for athletes to compete for their countries in both the traditional road race and individual time trial. Fans will also be treated to a team time trial competition between the world’s top professional teams. The 2015 Road World Championships will take place between September 19-27 and will feature 12 races for Elite Men and Women, Under 23 Men and Junior Men and Women.

“Securing the 2015 World Championships is the result of tremendous collaboration between civic and business leaders and strategic partners,” said Tim Miller, Executive Director of Richmond 2015, Inc., the non-profit corporation responsible for the organization, management and promotion of the 2015 Championships. “As we now enter the next phase, we look forward to expanding these partnerships to ensure that the 2015 World Championships set a new standard of excellence.”

The World Road Championships were last held in America in 1986 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. American men and women have won 13 World Championship titles in both the road race and time trial, including road race titles by Greg LeMond in 1983 and 1989 and Lance Armstrong in 1993.

Despite the fact that the 2015 World Championships are four years away, extensive planning already has begun. In addition to the 2015 World Championship events, other events and activities aimed at establishing a long-lasting legacy of bicycling in central Virginia for individuals of all ages and abilities is an important goal for the city, Richmond 2015, sponsors and strategic partners.

“Bringing the World Championships to the United States truly punctuates the outstanding state of cycling in America,” said Steve Johnson, President and CEO of USA Cycling. “From the success of American-based professional teams in Europe to our ever-growing domestic membership to world-class stage races like the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge; the 2015 Road World Championships is yet another milestone towards the continued growth of our sport.”

An economic impact study conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics found that the 2015 World Championships would generate more than $135 million for the Commonwealth of Virginia and would attract nearly 500,000 onsite spectators.

To follow planning and progress on the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships, visit, like us on or follow us on Twitter @richmond2015.

About Richmond 2015

Richmond 2015, Inc is the non-profit corporation responsible for the organization, management and promotion of the 2015 UCI World Road Cycling Championships. Working on behalf of the City of Richmond and USA Cycling, Richmond 2015, its Board of Directors and its Organizing Committee organize and oversee all of the elements of the event planning, as well as manage all strategic partnerships and constituent groups in order to fulfill its mission to orchestrate the events.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

City Re-Opens Newly Renovated Belmont Library

Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined the Director of Richmond Public Library Harriet Coalter in a ribbon cutting ceremony today to reopen the newly renovated Belmont Library at 3100 Ellwood Avenue.

“I take pride in celebrating the new renovations, additions and exciting features of Belmont Library,” said the Mayor. “Investing in our City’s future through infrastructure upgrades and enhancing educational enrichment opportunities, such as those offered in our City libraries, is vital to the success of our City’s future generations.”

New library features include lighting, carpet, furniture, computers, an enlarged meeting room, teen area, and a new parking lot entrance. Renovations also included a Green Building Council approved roof system and new heating and cooling system to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The library was originally constructed in 1956 with recent renovations beginning in the winter of 2010.

Mayor Jones first announced the library renovations in March 2009 during his biennial budget proposal to City Council. More than $9 million, over the term of the project, has been set aside to complete renovations to all City libraries. Renovations to the North Avenue Library and Westover Hills Library were completed in 2010 and the newly renovated Hull Street Library opened in August of this year. Renovation funding is provided through the “Building a Better Richmond” fund of the City’s Capital Improvement Plan.

New to the Belmont Library is the availability of Nook Simple Touch Readers. Funded by the Richmond Public Library Foundation, the Library's eReader project allows library patrons to borrow one of 36 Nook Simple Touch Readers. Each City library branch has four eReaders, which are preloaded with current selections from genres such as best-sellers, mysteries, and urban fiction.

Library patrons may reserve an eReader at any library branch or through the online catalog on the library’s website. Searching the catalog for the word Nook will bring up a list of all available eReaders. To check out an eReader, patrons must have a valid library card and photo ID, and be 18 years of age or older.

To celebrate the Belmont Library reopening, overdue fines on books and materials returned to the Belmont Library, from September 13 through 17, will be forgiven.

Monday, September 12, 2011

City Receives $1.2 Million Grant to Reduce STDs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) has recently been awarded a three-year grant to utilize community approaches to reduce sexually transmitted diseases (STD), one of only four grants awarded nationwide. The RCHD will receive over $360,000 per year as part of the CDC’s Approaches to Reducing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (CARS) Initiative.

“I commend the Richmond City Health District and the Virginia Department of Health for pursuing resources that will address the health concerns in the City,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

In December 2010, Richmond City Health District Deputy Director Dr. Danny Avula and CDC Prevention Specialist Ashley Halbritter collaborated with local organizations and city agencies to form the City-wide STD Coalition to work on the STD issues in Richmond. With help from over 30 coalition members, a grant proposal was submitted to the CDC, showing how the City of Richmond STD interventions and services would look if grant funding provided new resources.

“When we saw this grant for reducing STDs, we knew we had to apply”, said Dr. Danny Avula. “We’d just started the STI Coalition, and the grant was a perfect match for the community-based approach we are trying to establish to address extraordinarily high rates of sexually transmitted infection in the Richmond community”.

Funding will be distributed to partnering community agencies that work with the RCHD to conduct STD prevention and provide treatment services. The Coalition will implement innovative strategies to address the STD issues with the goal of lowering STD rates, reducing health disparities, and encouraging healthier behaviors. “Identifying the health needs, enhancing prevention services, and increasing community awareness will improve the well being of our City,” added Jones.

CDC will also award grants to the University of Texas Health Science Center (San Antonio), Urban Affairs Coalition/ Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness Program (Philadelphia), and the Health Research Association, Inc. (Los Angeles).

Mayor Jones Announces School Construction Awards

~Broad Rock and Oak Grove Elementary to have 44% MBE participation~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones to advised Richmond City Council that Martin Brothers Contractors, Inc. of Roanoke, Virginia has won the reissued bid for the construction of Broad Rock Elementary and Oak Grove Elementary.

Earlier bids were canceled in May of this year when the administration decided to scale back on noncritical features to reduce costs. The current bids have come in $5 million less and have achieved 44% minority business enterprise participation.

"Saving more than $5 million on these schools is precisely the outcome we were looking for," said Mayor Jones. "We are serious about building schools, but we're also serious about getting the best deals for the City of Richmond. I congratulate Martin Brothers Contractors on their successful pursuit of this opportunity and congratulate all the minority businesses that will be involved in the construction of these much needed schools for our city."

For Broad Rock Elementary School, Martin Brothers was the low bidder on the project with a bid of $19.3 million. The MBE/ESB participation goal was 40%, and Martin Brothers will be achieving 44.19%. The MBE firm Prestige Construction group alone will be performing 35% of the work.

The sub-contractors that will be used are:

Prestige Construction Group ($6,770,750 – 35%)

Sanger Roofing ($724,950 – 3.74%)

Bullock Painting ($250,000 – 1.29%)

Native American Sprinkler ($174,679 – 0.9%)

Dwight Snead Construction Company ($412,665 – 2.13%)

Cephas Contracting, Inc. ($111,935 – 0.57%)

Shen-Valley Masonry ($437,620 – 2.26%)

In addition, the City has issued a Notice of Intent to Award to Martin Brothers Contractors, Inc. for the construction of Oak Grove Elementary School. Martin Brothers Contractors was the low bid at $19.8 million.

The MBE/ESB participation goal was 40%, and Martin Brothers has committed to 44.28% MBE participation.

The sub-contractors that will be used are:

Prestige Construction Group ($6,943,300 – 35%)

Sanger Roofing ($640,000– 3.22%)

Bullock Painting ($185,000 – 0.93%)

Native American Sprinkler ($219,922 – 1.1%)

Dwight Snead Construction Company ($581,000 – 2.92%)

Royal Exteriors Royal Homes, Inc. ($215,425 – 1.086%)