Posts Tagged ‘albemarle’

The composite index- what is it and why should I care?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

The composite index or CPI is the state formula used to divide education dollars. It compares income levels, current tax rates, property values, other tax revenue, all features which describe a community’s “ability to pay.” Our ability to pay has increased in 2010 compared to other places mainly because our real estate values have not fallen as far as others.  “It’s all relative” actually applies here. Our CPI went up, meaning we would receive fewer state dollars ($5.2M less). Albemarle County also has some extremely wealthy people, whose income tends to raise the income statistics for the entire county. The composite index is evaluated every two years.

$$$ predictions

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

The General Assembly this month has decided to cushion the blow to Albemarle by the adoption of the new composite index by providing replacement funds for the upcoming year. What is coming after that? We know that in FY 2012, beginning July 1, 2011, the $5.2 M replacement funds will be cut in half, to $2.7M using the same composite index. In FY 2013, there will be NO replacement, thus we will have that $5.2M hole again compared to today’s budget. Also in FY13 the county will pay more into the VRS or VA Retirement System. How much more we do not know. The General Assembly postponed higher payments to make it easier for localities. But it will only be easier if we begin saving now.

Why is public education important?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

A strong education system is a keystone to Albemarle’s economic vitality. Education provides opportunity and skills to all students and helps each to achieve to the best of his or her ability and become a productive adult. When county taxpayers invest in education, they are “buying in” to the corporation at the lowest cost possible. Successful students will have more productive lives, be employed, support their families, and make contributions to our society as their strengths dictate. If we cut the essential educational processes and students fall behind or through the cracks in our safety net, higher costs will be paid in the future for many other social and justice services.

Everyone has high expectations for continued improvement in operations. With concerned citizens electing committed and energetic school board members, I am certain we will not be disappointed.

Artisan Trail grant approved for Albemarle and Nelson

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Last fall, Susan Stimart,  business facilitator for Albemarle County, partnered with the economic development and tourism director in Nelson County to apply for grant funds to promote our rural artisan businesses by developing an Artisan Trail, similar to the Monticello Wine Trail, The Brew Ridge Trail for beer, and The Crooked Road Music Trail in southwest Virginia. Our BOS was in agreement and approved $1000 in county funding for the project.

On January 26, 2010, Albemarle and Nelson Counties received approval for the grant, which will total $18,000.  The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) along with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) are providing support funds, along with the Economic Development Partnership and the Department of Business Assistance. The sustainability plan includes a participatory fee structure for the artisans, agri-artisans, supporting sites, and additional sponsors. The project will benefit the livelihoods of our local artisans and our local creative economy, further stimulating tourism and our community.

The Central Virginia Artisan Trail project will work with the Artisan Center of Virginia (ACV) to produce a tourist brochure and map linking our artisan studios, galleries, and agri-tourism businesses throughout Albemarle and Nelson Counties as trail sites. The Central Virginia Artisan Trail map will be available for tourists and citizens throughout the area. To supplement the paper brochure, the ACV Artisan Trail Directory website will list local artisans’ studios and galleries as regional trail sites. The online directory will provide detailed information, photographs, and links to partner websites.

Virginia’s Artisan Trails began in southwest VA where the economic aftermath of loss of manufacturing jobs in textiles and woodworking is severe. The Trail’s goal is to identify the locations of participating artisans, the hours the studio or gallery is open, and the affiliated businesses along the route, many of whom display the works of artists whose locations or work processes do not lend themselves to visitors.  In addition to helping artisans to market their craft, VTC Entrepreneurship Express assistance is available to strengthen business aspects.

There will be no need to reinvent the wheel. In the mid 90s the Handmade in America program was launched in western North Carolina by a business facilitator named Becky Anderson. She spoke at the artisan conference I attended on January 23 and had some terrific numbers to inspire us in our rural business activities.

The goal of the program is to reverse the market, bringing the tourist and local shopper to the artisan rather than the artisan carrying their crafts to a remote sales place. The brochures will include listings for artists, artisans, farms, artisanal meat, veggie or cheese makers. Listings will show off our natural resources, mountain peaks and waterfalls, scenic vistas, byways, and rivers, local heritage sites, local bed and breakfasts, and restaurants who display the works of artisans in their décor.

In North Carolina in 1995, the economic impact of the Handmade in America program was $122 Million, 4x tobacco and equal to the manufacturing wages of the region. In 2007, after 12 years, the impact was measured at $207 Million. Tourists purchase more than 65 percent of the artisan sales in NC.

The economic success of our rural economy benefits the artisan families directly, as well as our county and region. This is an exciting beginning.

I learned much of this information at the Artisan Center of Virginia conference, Create Craft – Create Community, January 23, 2010, Hotel Roanoke.

For purple mountains majesty

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

I saw it today at dawn as I was driving west on 64. I was half way up to Afton when the sun peeked over the eastern hills and bathed the trees to the north in a red glow. The tops of the trees were all covered in ice, and on the south, across the Greenwood valley, were the purple mountains. Every little dip was full of fog, the hills were purple topped with white. Quite a spectacle and no camera at hand. Sometimes we forget the magic of our scenic location, yet it provides the backdrop for our community success, inspiration for our quality of life, and a call to stewardship.

Why was I there? The Artisan conference in Roanoke.