One of the biggest assets in Waynesboro is East Main Street/Hwy 250, which connects downtown Waynesboro with the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, and Appalachian Trail, three nationally-known and visited outdoor destinations. Waynesboro was selected as the 2019 Creative Give Back winner because connecting downtown to these assets, via what we called the Gateway Parkway, will be a pivot point for the local economy.
The City of Waynesboro Give Back project creatively links the city’s cultural and economic offerings with the natural splendor of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The four-mile connecting corridor of Hwy 250/East Main Street faces numerous redevelopment challenges such as vacant properties, blight, and lack of coherent development vision. Waynesboro requested support through the Creative Give Back because the redevelopment of the corridor is critical to attract other economic opportunities. Waynesboro wanted a vision and plan to transform and revitalize the corridor.
The Creative Give Back Team gathered business input, conducted a market analysis, researched best practices, and modeled the impact of potential new businesses. The redevelopment goals focus on making the Gateway Parkway a true gateway to the city, encouraging business startups and growth by marketing and promoting the corridor to businesses and people.
The first redevelopment goal is to make the corridor a true gateway for Waynesboro. This includes a new visitor center, property redevelopment, and public investments that will make the corridor attractive for private investment. In order to establish the Gateway Parkway as a business location, we recommended business development strategies and a few changes to city policies. Finally, branding the corridor for internal and external marketing was recommended. Businesses can display on their websites “proudly located in Waynesboro’s Gateway Parkway.”
We recommended Waynesboro start on projects that take staff resources and little funding. Updating marketing materials and information, enhancing incentive and business assistance programs, organizing events in the corridor, and branding the corridor are a few examples. Projects like relocating the current visitor center and eventually building a regional visitor center at Hwy 250/64/BRP will take more time to plan and fund. Like most redevelopment projects, what the corridor project needs the most are champions advocating for public investment, making private investments, and telling the redevelopment story.
Read the full Waynesboro report – Gateway Parkway Redevelopment Strategy & Marketing Plan – here.
The next Creative Give Back application process starts on January 6 with applications due February 21. We have awarded projects for workforce strategies, downtown revitalization, a young professionals network, and corridor redevelopment. Ideas for the Creative Give Back are only limited by your imagination. Put your thinking cap on. What will be your creative idea for 2020?