In 2018, the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development & Tourism released the Blueprint for Opportunity, a five-year plan showcasing the City of Lynchburg’s intentions to build up the local economy. We invited the community, along with our business partners and stakeholders, to join us as part of this effort. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March 2020 showed us the need for a paradigm shift that would require gathering together again to come up with more solutions to help our economy continue to grow and stay resilient. That’s why we have developed the Blueprint for Opportunity Reset & Recovery Initiative and Task Force.
A Response to A New Normal
When it became evident that the changes happening in our nation were going to be more than just short-term, we acted quickly to assist our local economy. Small businesses were having to adjust their services, make employment choices and transition to online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery. This has also been an unfortunate time of job loss and decrease in work. To empower the Lynchburg economy towards recovery, we have taken many measures to foster the well-being of our entire community and continue to promote Lynchburg as a destination and a hub of economic opportunity. These measures include:
- Launching the Business Recovery Loan Program: Many businesses and local organizations have been unable to receive assistance from the federal government, so we reallocated funds to help soften the economic toll on many businesses in our economy.
- Launching the “I Am Lynchburg” Ambassador Program: Lynchburg will continue to be a tourism destination and a vibrant city of great opportunity. We are giving Lynchburg residents a chance to invest in the city they love by experiencing it firsthand from the visitors perspective. In return, ambassadors will have a greater opportunity to participate in the promotion of Lynchburg and share with others why we love this city so much.
- Partnering with local organizations to help us move forward and recover: Our partnership with Centra Health, HealthWorks and Piedmont Community Health Plan is working to spread factual information about the pandemic, promote access to necessary resources and gather information from virtual town halls about best practices and guidelines for reopening and moving forward. We have also partnered with the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, the Downtown Lynchburg Association, the Small Business Development Center and Virginia Career Works to create economic plans that will help our economy get back on track.
- Creating an economic redevelopment task force: We’ve gathered a large group of Lynchburg community leaders around us to discuss options and help us make informed decisions when it comes to determining how Lynchburg responds to and bounces back from the current crisis. We are currently working with this group to update our Blueprint action plan and help our community recover successfully.
Moving Forward Together
As Governor Northam’s Forward Virginia plan continues to unfold, we will be working hard to lead this great City along the path of economic recovery. Lynchburg has been responding progressively, adapting to change and remaining resilient. “Our community has found new ways to demonstrate our ingenuity and pride,” says Marjette Upshur, director of the Office of Economic Development & Tourism. “Businesses are innovating and even expanding, our creative sector is spreading joy remotely, and our peoples’ compassion never ceases to inspire.” We hope that as we update the Blueprint for Opportunity and throw economic development efforts into high gear, our community will continue to work together to make Lynchburg the best small city in America.