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A ‘big win for a small town’

Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Warsaw won the 2019 Virginia Municipal League award for economic development, which VML deemed “a big win for a small town.”

With a vacancy rate of well over 50 percent, Warsaw was a community that risked becoming a residential area with little to no business. Instead, it has become one that attracted its first ice cream shop, gourmet popcorn shop, a fine jeweler and a custom granite provider in just the past year, a VML announcement said.

The town council implemented policies, including reduced water and sewage hookup rates, beautification grants and successfully applied for the DHCD Downtown Revitalization Grant. But the town’s leadership realized that wasn’t enough to jump start the town to the extent needed to begin revitalizing its downtown, so they provided the funding for the Warsaw Economic Incentive Grant, which provides financial assistance to small businesses, the document also noted.

Mayor Randall Phelps proudly displayed the “coveted” award at last week’s town council meeting. He pointed out there were five other VML awards for different categories, and the winners included Richmond City, Fredericksburg, James City County, Danville and Falls Church.

“We were the only town. By far, we were a very small fish on a very big stage. It was a most gratifying and most humbling thing,” said Phelps.

“You should absolutely be proud,” town manager Joseph Queseberry told members of the town council. “It’s the first, from what we can tell, that’s ever been won in the Northern Neck and our town population is the size of one city block in some of the cities [that won], so we should be really proud of ourselves.”