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Ashland outlines economic priorities for strategic plan

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

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Ashland has made its economic development priorities known.

Tuesday night, town council unanimously approved a list of recommendations that will go to the county as Hanover works to update its strategic plan for business growth countywide.

The final draft came after work by the town economic development authority and several readings by council. The final council vote authorized Town Manager Charles Hartgrove and Gaillard Owen, EDA chairman, to forward the list to the county.

The town’s recommendations range from collaboration on infrastructure projects to the county playing a larger role in promoting tourism and hospitality in the town.

The town’s first priority was to develop a joint plan to improve broadband infrastructure in “key commercial corridors and residential developments” in Ashland and Hanover County.

Calling tourism a “fast-growing industry” and one that has exceeded the town’s ability to manage by itself, Ashland is recommending Hanover help promote and market tourism resources to help “maximize exposure and capture untapped markets.”

Mayor George Spagna said that following the voluntary settlement agreement between the town and county, Ashland essentially took on the responsibility for tourism while the county was tasked with taking over economic development duties.

“The reality is that since that time, those borders have blurred but the town is still carrying the bulk of the load for tourism and we’re asking [the county] to get more heavily involved,” Spagna said Tuesday.

Read the full story in the Aug. 21 Herald-Progress. Call (804) 798-9031 or signup online to subscribe today.