Contact Smithfield 2020
The Smithfield 2020 team
Disclosures - Jim Abicht, Christi Chatham, and Mark Hall are business and/or commercial property owners in the Smithfield Historic District.
Governance - The organization and operation of the Smithfield 2020 Team are subject to Operating Guidelines ratified and signed by the members of the Team.
A brief history of the Smithfield 2020 project
Spring 2009 - Several individuals including the Isle of Wight County Economic Development Director, the Chairman and the President of the Isle of Wight / Smithfield / Windsor Chamber of Commerce and the Isle of Wight & Smithfield Convention & Visitors Bureau's Director of Tourism meet to discuss ways to address the economic vitality of the Smithfield Historic District in light of the recent closing of multiple storefronts on Main Street. County Economic Development funds a study by Sanford Holshouser, a Cary, NC, economic development consulting firm.
Summer 2009 - Sanford Holshouser staff interviews County and Town government leadership and staff, and Historic District merchants. The project includes an online survey of stakeholders, merchants, residents and visitors.
Fall 2009 - The Sanford Holshouser report is reviewed by an ad hoc steering committee which includes representatives from County Economic Development, Tourism, the Town, the Chamber of Commerce, the Smithfield Historic District Business Association and the Isle of Wight Arts League. The report is presented by Sanford Holshouser staff at a public meeting at the Smithfield Center on October 27th and (an abbreviated version) to the Smithfield Town Council on November 3rd. The steering committee proposes organizing the report's recommended initiatives under a multi-organizational project team.
January 2010 - The Smithfield 2020 project team is organized, ratifies Operating Guidelines and begins a formal review of economic and cultural vitality initiatives identified in the Sanford Holshouser report. The team has met on the first Wednesday of the month since then. Key accomplishments are enumerated in the right column.
The notes from every team meeting are available online.
Historic Smithfield, 2020's sponsoring organization
Historic Smithfield, Inc., a tax-exempt organization, was created in 1988 to serve the Smithfield Historic District by enhancing its physical appearance, preserving and promoting its history and furthering the viability of its commercial core. The organization was initially tasked with raising matching funds to a grant from Joseph W. Luter III and the planning of a revitalization project. By 1997, improvements such as placing utilities underground, constructing brick sidewalks and installation of period street lights were completed. As well, the economic vitality of Main Street was significantly improved with a varied mix of shops, eating establishments and historically significant venues. In 1999, the Virginia Downtown Development Association recognized Smithfield for its Main Street Beautification Project.
Most recently, Historic Smithfield has provided fiduciary support for the Schoolhouse Museum project and the Church Street Beautification Project. In April 2010, Historic Smithfield agreed under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding to sponsor and provide fiduciary support for the Smithfield 2020 program.
The Historic Smithfield Board of Directors
Recap of Smithfield 2020 initiatives to date
2020 organized as a project team by pulling together the major organizations that can impact the economic and cultural vitality of the Historic District. 2020 was also established as a program of Historic Smithfield, Inc., a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), organization.
2020 championed Business Resource Centers hosted by 2020 and the Chamber of Commerce to assist businesses looking to locate in Smithfield.
2020 submitted a Commercial District Affiliate application on behalf of Smithfield that was accepted by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's Virginia Main Street program.
2020 developed a matching grant program with the financial support of the Town for facade and landscape improvement efforts by Historic District businesses.
2020 championed an Arts and Culture District designation. As permitted by the Code of Virginia, the Town now offers financial incentives to arts businesses within the Historic District.
2020 led the effort to convert Town-owned properties for commercial use. The Town Council put two vacant North Church properties for sale via RFP. Both were sold; the 1939 firehouse is now a mixed use commercial / residential building and the old laundry was transformed into a micro winery. Subsequently, two small buildings on Main Street flanking Hayden's Lane were sold and are now The Beanery, an extension of the Gourmet Bakery and Café, and Mary Elizabeth, a women's boutique.
2020 introduced streetscape improvement concepts by engaging renowned architect Carlton Abbott for an evaluation and recommendation study of Main Street properties and public areas.
2020 mobilized volunteers for Liriope Day. With the assistance of Town staff, Western Tidewater Master Gardeners and Smithfield High School's Beta Club, 68 volunteers transformed overly-mulched beds on Main Street into future lush green areas by planting 420 liriope plants.
2020 proposed golf cart access to designated streets in Smithfield as a green and Tourist-friendly initiative. An enabling ordinance was ratified in early 2011.
2020 championed a The Porcine Parade, a public art project involving juried submissions by local artists for the painting of porcine statues with scenes that reflect local history and culture. Eight statues were installed in the Historic District in June 2012.
2020, in partnership with Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism, launched a branding initiative to capture the unique experience of walking down streets in the Ham Capital while surrounded by authentic historic sites and original art, where people smile, greet each other by name and welcome visitors with genuine hospitality. The project was guided by industry best practices and involved teams of residents and merchants. "Genuine", with a supporting tag line of "Savor Small-Town Southern Charm", captured the brand that is the Historic District.
2020 followed up the branding project with a competition for artful banners to be displayed on the light poles throughout the Historic District. The winning entries were announced in May 2014.
2020, at the request of Town staff, responded to a proposed development of the Pierceville property (located at 502 Grace Street) with a July 2015 report evaluating the economic impact of the new neighborhood, its fit with the surrounding Historic District neighborhood, and a request for action to preserve the historic Pierceville farmstead from further demolition by neglect.
2020 compiled and distributed in January 2016 a quarterly meals tax trend report as one measure of the economic health of the Historic District.
2020, at the Town's request, published in early 2017 weekly updates on the progress of the Main Street waterline replacement project.