Friday, October 11, 2013

City Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award

The City’s Department of Economic & Community Development received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2012 brochure in the category of Specific Purpose Brochure for communities with populations of 200,000- 500,000 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 8, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held October 6-9, in Philadelphia.

“The Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the city of Richmond’s Department of Economic & Community Development as being one of the leading organizations in the industry for innovation, creativity and successful strategies,” said IEDC chair, Paul Krutko. “These awards are meant to honor the organizations and individuals who are dedicated to making a positive change in their communities. This organization uses creative solutions and inventive ideas, and offers other regions a wonderful example to learn and benefit from. The award represents an acknowledgment and appreciation for the Department of Economic & Community Development’s dedication to continuous growth within itself, as well as improving the industry overall.”
Richmond’s Commercial Corridor Snapshot booklet gives detailed descriptions and demographic statistics on ten commercial corridors within the city. In addition, each page includes quotes from businesses located in the neighborhood, walking scores, images, maps, and bullet points on top assets of each of the areas. The booklet is of value to companies interested in learning about the different areas of the city in which they could locate.

“Our city has many outstanding advantages accompanied with a rich and diverse community throughout our neighborhoods and corridors. The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development has done a tremendous job of showcasing this information for potential businesses and residents alike in their print publications and on,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

IEDC's Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. These awards honor organizations and individuals 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 a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions.

Richmond Selected To Participate In National Initiative To Help Young Children Succeed

The City of Richmond has been selected by the National League of Cities (NLC) to receive technical assistance as part of a national initiative to increase the likelihood that city children will achieve educational success demonstrated by reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Researchers, practitioners and policymakers increasingly believe that a more seamless educational pipeline that addresses a range of academic, behavioral, health and family issues could serve young children more effectively. Through the Municipal Leadership to Promote Educational Alignment for Young Children initiative, Richmond will receive practical guidance as it takes steps to implement and improve educational alignment from PreK to 3rd grade. 

NLC will provide cities with customized assistance, access to best practices and national experts, and opportunities for peer learning as they develop or enhance a plan for educational alignment and work with stakeholders from across the community. Emphasis will be placed on collaboration among city agencies, school districts and PreK organizations.

 “I am extremely pleased that Richmond was selected by the National League of Cities to participate in the Municipal Leadership to Promote Educational Alignment for Young Children initiative as I believe our city can benefit immensely and the NLC can benefit from the work we have done here in Richmond,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

In August, Mayor Jones announced that the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission would continue its work as the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty. The Maggie Walker Initiative is comprised of seven task forces to include the Early Childhood Education and Parental Engagement task force and the task force addressing Adolescent Transitions. These two task forces are already in place and will directly benefit from the technical assistance offered through the NLC Educational Alignment initiative.

Richmond also has the Grade Level Reading coalition and the Out of School Time Standards coalition. Bridging Richmond, based at Virginia Commonwealth University, is assisting these coalitions and is positioned to offer data analysis to assist with the NLC initiative. Mayor Jones stated, “We want to move ideas from concept to a discernible action plan to implementation. I am committed to do all I can to reach the implementation stage as quickly as possible as our children deserve every opportunity to obtain a brighter future.”

NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families is coordinating the six city initiative, which will run through December 2014. The project is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with help from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Other cities selected to receive assistance through the initiative are Austin, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Hartford, CT; Longmont, CO; and Rochester, NY.

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. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions where vulnerable children can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Venture Richmond and the City of Richmond Announce A Botanical Makeover of the RVA Arts District

Venture Richmond has been working in partnership with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, City departments and local businesses to develop a plan to beautify the RVA Arts District by enhancing existing landscaped areas and adding planters to the concrete medians on Broad Street.  “This project supports our vision for a clean, safe, and beautiful Downtown,” said Jacqueline McClenney-Wallace, Chair of Venture Richmond, “and it supports the Mayor’s efforts to further develop the Arts and Culture District.”  
“The RVA Arts District Beautification Plan is literally a “botanical makeover” of the Broad Street gateway and the 400 block of E. Grace Street.” said Lucy Meade who is leading the project for Venture Richmond. “The planting designs are stunning and were created by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, our lead design consultant on the project. The project includes a total of 13 blocks, 49 planters, 526 bags of mulch, 460+ bags of soil, and 1,200+ plants. Locally-owned Colesville Nursery is our source for all of the plants and they have been wonderful partners helping us find the right size plants for the installation.”  
Venture Richmond is funding the transformation and maintenance of 13 blocks.  The scope of the project includes the following:
Broad Street:
Block 1: enhancing the existing median on W. Broad St. from Belvidere to Henry Streets by adding mulch and 130 perennials that will provide seasonal interest.
Blocks 2-5:  adding 28 (3’ x 3’ x 3’) planters to the concrete medians on W. Broad St. from Henry St. to Adams Sts. The planters provide seasonal interest and will be filled with shrubs (thrillers), perennials (fillers) and a few annuals (spillers).  A total of 218 plants will be planted.
Blocks 6-8: enhancing the existing narrow raised medians on Broad St. from Adams St. to 2nd St., also known as the “Mohawks,” by adding 276 perennials that offer seasonal interest.
Blocks 9-11: adding 21 (3’ x 3’ x 3’) planters to the concrete medians on E. Broad St. from 8th  St. to 11th St. The planters provide seasonal interest and will be filled with shrubs (thrillers), perennials (fillers) and a few annuals (spillers).  A total of 135 plants will be planted.
Grace Street:
Block 12: enhancing the 13 raised tree wells in the 400 Block of E Grace St. by removing the existing ivy and azaleas and replacing them with 100 shrubs, perennials and mulch.
Broad St. Parking lot (4th – 5th Street):
Block 13: enhancing the existing CDA parking lot landscaping by filling in with 400 shrubs and perennials.
Venture Richmond will be adding seven 3’ x 3’ x 3’ planters on each concrete median in Blocks 2-5 and 9-11; a total of 7 blocks.  The planters are a matte black with clean modern lines. The planters will not be permanently affixed to the medians; they will be placed on four 1” high blocks, which will raise the planters up enough that a fork lift can move them if needed.  
“This project says “you are valued” to those who live and work in Richmond,” says Frank Robinson, President and CEO of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. “It’s a lesson we learned this past January when the Garden brought noted New York City urban design consultant Lynden Miller to town – civic pride increases when public green spaces are transformed. Grace Chapman and Leah Purdy from the Garden’s team have created a planting plan embodying the Garden’s passion: connecting people and plants to improve our community.”
The development and approval of this plan involved collaborating with multiple City departments (DPR, DPW, DPU, etc.) and Venture Richmond followed standard City policies for permitting. Venture Richmond is also working in partnership with the City Arborist to prune the trees in the beautification areas.  The Richmond Tree Stewards will be pruning Crape Myrtles in the W. Broad St. median between Belvidere and Henry Streets and Venture Richmond has hired Arborscapes to prune the tree in the 400 block of East Grace and the Lone Oak at Broad and Adams Streets.
“The RVA Beautification Project brings together Capital One, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Venture Richmond and the City to give Broad Street a much needed beauty treatment” said Jack Berry, executive director of Venture Richmond. “Capital One will provide several hundred volunteers, who will do all of the planting and installation work for us in two days on October 21st and 23rd.” 
“The hundreds of Capital One volunteers supporting this effort are excited to join Venture Richmond and the City to help beautify the Broad Street downtown corridor,” said Steve Gannon, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Capital One. “As the region’s largest private employer, we’re proud to invest in both the future of our community and the local businesses who line the corridor. Not only will The Venture Richmond Beautification Project help attract increased foot traffic for local businesses, but it will provide jobs for local residents in need through The Kleane Kare Team.
“The Broad Street downtown corridor is the arts and cultural hub of Richmond and this botanical makeover is a welcomed enhancement to this very important corridor,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.  “I’m so thankful to those that have worked in partnership to beautify this area and am especially grateful to Venture Richmond for their leadership, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for their expertise and to Capital One for the hundreds of volunteers committed to this project. This type of collaborative effort is precisely how we will build a better Richmond.” 
“The installation will literally transform the corridor within a few hours and benefit residents, businesses and visitors 365 days a year,” said Mayor Jones. “A critically important part of the project is the ongoing maintenance and Venture Richmond has made a commitment to maintain the landscaping at a high, ‘botanical garden’ standard.”
Venture Richmond has hired The Kleane Kare Team, Inc., who is partnering with Snead Associates, P. C., both minority-owned companies, to provide ongoing maintenance and watering, as well as to be responsible for replacing any damaged plants and/or planters. Venture Richmond will reserve funding for replacement plants and keep some extra planters in reserve in case any are damaged.  
“The Venture Richmond Beautification Project aligns perfectly with my continued commitment to the enhancement of our environment” said Sharon Dabney-Wooldridge, CEO, The Kleane Kare Team, Inc.
“We are very excited about our partnership with Kleane Kare and their partnership with CARITAS and The Healing Place” said Mr. Berry. “They will hire people in the Recovery Program, who have been homeless due to their addictions, and who are working part-time as part of their reintroduction into the workforce.”  Kleane Kare’s experience with these employees is excellent.  This contract will provide an opportunity to train them in another set of skills, landscape maintenance.  
“This is a major new initiative for Venture Richmond that will change the face of Broad St. and hopefully be a catalyst for additional “botanical makeovers” on W. Broad St. and the interstate gateways”, says Ms. Meade.  Venture Richmond is investing over $100,000 in the beautification of the Arts District, which has been dramatically leveraged by the numerous partnerships and the willingness of the suppliers to sell us the products at wholesale prices.  Venture Richmond is funding the project and the ongoing maintenance with Downtown Assessment District funding.