Continuing economy conversation

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lunenburg County has seen a number of economic victories over the course of the past year, such as the opening of several new businesses, potential business opportunities through the Community Business Launch grant program, which Victoria, Kenbridge and Lunenburg are partnering to apply for, and exploring potential venues and opportunities for students and community members.

In the midst of this activity comes some difficult news.

Recently, S&M Brands, Inc. has been confirmed to be bought out by a different company. This development led to approximately 87 employees no longer able to work at the facility.

STEPS Inc. also had to make the difficult decision to close its job training and manufacturing operation at 300 Court St. in Victoria. Close to 30 employees work at the Victoria facility. STEPS has made arrangements to help employees transfer to other positions. Six employees with disabilities were offered employment opportunities at other nearby STEPS facilities.

Dr. Mary Cabrera with the Centra office in Victoria will be leaving the office and is set to work at the Centra Medical Group clinic in Farmville.

Each of these items strike a blow to the county’s employment and economic development. STEPS and S&M Brands have had a long-term impact in the county. Businesses need to change and develop and sometimes as a result have to make difficult decisions.

The recent news about the closures are worrying for families and individuals who work at these facilities. I hope these developments will allow conversation and action about economic development to continue in the county. I have confidence in the administration of Lunenburg, Victoria, Kenbridge, and the region to find solutions to address the need for employment and sustainable industry.

I encourage the county to continue pursuing effective and innovative solutions to generate new businesses and cultivate existing business in the area.

The county is close to approving its comprehensive plan, which outlines the goals and mission for the county, including its economy.

Lunenburg is among the counties participating in the Commonwealth Regional Council’s (CRC) Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) program, which would allow the region, including Lunenburg, greater eligibility to receive federal funding.

To learn more about these programs, contact the administration in Lunenburg, Victoria or Kenbridge.

Emily Hollingsworth is a staff reporter for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.