By Louise Ferrall
The Crozet Board of Trade held an enthusiastic general meeting May 16 at Pro Re Nata Brewery in Crozet. CBT president Mike Marshall, publisher of the Crozet Gazette, told the crowd of 50 local business owners on hand that the organization, which has been dormant in recent years, active only to fundraise for the fireworks show at Crozet Independence Day Celebrations, needs to revitalize to bring economic development to the western Albemarle area. The CBT is an IRS–recognized nonprofit that fundraises for Crozet charitable causes and to promote the civic life and economic growth of the town.
Marshall proposed that the CBT undertake two initiatives, one a targeted advertising campaign in Virginia’s urban markets—Virginia Beach, Richmond, and northern Virginia—to attract visitors to the area’s tourist attractions, perhaps timed to the Crozet Arts and Crafts Fair. The second would be a Christmas raffle program designed to keep customers shopping locally that would offer prizes for ticket holders who present receipts from Crozet businesses.
Host John Schoeb, owner of Pro Re Nata and Crozet Blue Ridge Dental, described his commitment to the community and the need for an active organization such as the CBT, and offered to be a location for CBT meetings, which will resume on a quarterly basis.
James King of King Family Vineyards, who was recently appointed to the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, encouraged business owners to attend CCAC meetings. “Ninety percent of local government is just showing up,” King said. Representing the perspective of Crozet business owners at these CCAC meetings is important because the CCAC advises the planning commission and Board of Supervisors on rezoning, development, and local infrastructure, including school impacts, he said.
Pointing to a T-shirt he was wearing that had the location of Crozet on a map of Virginia on it, King said he had been stopped three times in town that day by people who wanted to know where he got it. He suggested that the CBT develop an assortment of items bearing designs with the Crozet crest to sell and thereby raise a budget for CBT programs.
Peter Welsh, owner of Legacy Signs in Yancey Mills, addressed the group to suggest that they collectively take up businesses’ general frustration over the difficulty of getting commercial signage approved by the county. Individually, business owners have not had an impact on the problem, but working through the CBT they might be able to get attention on it, he said.
Karen Yonovitz, an artisan with the Crozet Artisans, promoted the visitors center in the downtown depot and suggested it as a location for community events.
Marshall said the CBT is looking for new officers, but had no volunteers and the existing officers—Brenda Plantz of Parkway Pharmacy as treasurer, and Jennie More as secretary—will remain for the next year. Welsh and Mark Cosgrove of Fardowners Restaurant, came forward to join the board of directors.
Marshall reminded business owners that they, combined with donations from residents, have historically provided the funds that pay for the Fourth of July fireworks show and asked them to be generous in donating again this year. Donations can be made online at: crozetcommunity.org/2016/05/cidc2016/#Donate.
Or, checks payable to the Downtown Crozet Association can be mailed to: DCA, P.O. Box 863, Crozet, Virginia 22932. Note “fireworks donation” on the memo line.
The CBT was formed in 2003 under the name Downtown Crozet Association. It was instrumental in developing the terms of the Downtown Crozet District, a unique zoning district in the county, designed to create a traditional, pedestrian-oriented town center. In 2013, responding to the development of commercial areas outside downtown in Old Trail and the Clover Lawn/Blue Ridge Shopping Center, it changed its name and adopted one honoring an earlier organization of community-minded businesses, the Crozet Board of Trade, which existed in the first half of the 20th century. The name change is now pending with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.