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Women lead business resurgence downtown

SoVaNow.com / January 14, 2021
South Boston Town Council heard Monday from Destination Downtown South Boston Executive Director Tamyra Vest, who provided an update on business growth and sustainability in town. Vest briefed council on two new businesses that have opened in the past two months, and emphasized that South Boston still has CARES Act grant funds available to help companies offset their revenue losses during the pandemic.

Vest emphasized one trend she has seen in recent years — how many businesses in town are owned by smart and savvy women. The downtown cluster includes Wister’s, Manna, Mother Cluckers, Bistro 1888, Southern Plenty, Busy Bean, Art Acoustix, Auburnlea on Main, Honey Bee’s Consignment, KJ’s Cake Creations, and new to Main Street, Cheers Sobo. Vest also praised the shops and establishments that continue to be successful in downtown and around Main Street after being in business for decades.

Matt Wagner, vice president of Revitalization National Main Street, “was blown away with our quantity of women-owned business,” said Vest.

The pandemic really helped to get small business to communicate with one another, Vest told Council members at their regular monthly meeting on Monday. Businesses have participated in several workshops as a part of a Small Business Recovery Grant program.

“Finally the businesses started to network and communicate together,” said Vest, who said it’s been an ongoing struggle for years to foster such a spirit of teamwork.

“This year they created ‘Find the Snowflake’ and ‘Visit with Santa’ as ways to encourage people to shop downtown,” said Vest.

Town Manager Tom Raab praised the hard work that Vest has put into finding grants and helping all the businesses sort through the paperwork to apply.

South Boston and Halifax County still have $300,000 available to hand out from a CARES Act relief fund “for any eligible business in Halifax County,” said Raab. All business in the county should call to find out if they qualify, he said. These funds will help pay with rent and mortgage payments, technological upgrades, and sanitation needs.

“You are a small business Sherlock Holmes,” said Vice Mayor Bob Hughes in singing the praises of Vest.

Vest finds opportunities with energy and empathy, Hughes continued: “She is not threatened by the process.”

Council also heard about the efforts of newly hired Assistant Town Manager Dennis Barker, former captain of the South Boston Police Department, to update the town’s website.

The new website “looks fresh and vivid,” said Council member Sharon Harris.

South Boston Town Council will hold its monthly work session/joint committee meeting on Jan. 25 at 5:45 p.m. at the Washington Coleman Community Center.



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