Drakes’ revitalization moves forward

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Town of Drakes Branch recently submitted all requirements to qualify for a $3,000 pre-planning grant for its revitalization project.

“Out of the 33 businesses, we got 28 surveys back,” said Drakes Branch Mayor Denise Pridgen. “We were really pleased with that. It has all been submitted. We’re just waiting to hear back … It will probably take from 2-4 weeks.”

In preparation for the sought-after grant, the town was required to complete a variety of pre-planning activities, including holding an initial public meeting, holding an initial management team meeting, conducting a physical inventory survey, completing a business assistance/providers inventory, identifying a skilled facilitator and holding a second management team meeting, according to an overview of the proposed project.

The town must now wait to hear back to find out about moving on to the next step.

At a Nov. 30 public meeting, citizens and business owners met to discuss the future of revitalization in the town.

At the time, Farmville-based Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) representative Melody Foster said the town had applied for a pre-project planning grant in May and was notified of the reward in October.

According to Foster, the CRC was contacted last spring by several business and property owners seeking funding to improve business opportunities in Drakes Branch.

“I’m looking forward to moving on and getting some kind of improvement in the town,” said Pridgen. “You know, the town has really gone down, and by Dollar General coming, that was a big plus.”

Pridgen said she would like to see other businesses come to town, including a restaurant.

According to Foster, if the grant is approved, the next step would include the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) assigning a specialist to work with the town and a planning session with its project management team.

The CRC is assisting the town through the application process and project administration.