Matt Kelly for Fredericksburg, Virginia City Council

Fredericksburg Area Museum

Tourism

We need to review our economic development efforts to ensure we are in a position to actively engage in economic development. To go out and try to attract the type of development that meets our goals instead of waiting to see what comes to us. Such efforts must also compliment Fredericksburg’s unique historic character. As this region continues to grow, the city’s historic character becomes more attractive to businesses and tourists.

What Has Been Accomplished:

  • Worked on initial incentives plan focused more on business recruitment.
  • Worked on the incentives package for Wegman’s, Capital Ale, and Bavarian Chef.
  • Involved in drafting MOU with Silver Cos establishing development guidelines for Celebrate VA to protect the river view shed, encourage pedestrian access, and protect sensitive areas along the river.

The Next Four Years:

  • Ensure that incentives diversify the tax base. In the case of our historic downtown, we should support businesses that are compatible with its character.
  • Work actively with the local business/educational community to identify business opportunities and infrastructure issues that need to be addressed.
  • Be open to working with our regional neighbors on economic development opportunities to include revenue sharing and joint investment.
  • Make our historic sites more interactive by taking advantage of technology.

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The Roxbury Mills site. Any redevelopment project downtown should focus on job creation and less on just more housing. And we need to be prepared to say no if the project doesn’t meet that goal and doesn’t fit the historic character of the downtown. We do not need to jump at the first project that comes along.

In the coming years we will be looking to re-develop our older shopping centers. We cannot wait to see what may come. We need to be working with landowners and developers to ensure we do not just more of the same. We also need to be prepared to invest in infrastructure improvements and target incentives and consider financing mechanisms like Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to attract the type of development we want. We also need to revise our incentives policy to be more focused.

It cannot be stressed enough–Historic Preservation is Economic Development. The city’s small-town historic character brings business and visitors to the city. It is what makes Fredericksburg unique. We incentivize bars and restaurants that come and go. We need to incentivize efforts to maintain our historic character. It is worth much more to the long-term prosperity of Fredericksburg.

Matt was one of the negotiators of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Silver Cos. regarding the future development of Celebrate VA. One aspect of that agreement dealt with ensuring the water quality and scenic beauty of the Rappahannock River. Today there is talk of maximizing density in Celebrate VA in the belief that such an effort will generate more revenue. Matt takes a different view. Protecting the river and looking for development that diversifies our tax base and protects the river makes more sense. Smart development not just more development