January 11 2018                                                                                                             Valley Gets Good Feedback on Business                                                                Marina Barnett                                                                                                               whsv.com

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Harrisonburg and Rockingham County businesses are getting feedback on how well they are doing.

On Wednesday morning, the Community Land Use and Economics Group (CLUE Group) presented data from a ninemonth long study at Court Square Theater on how business in the Shenandoah Valley is doing.

Most of the news reported a healthy, growing economy. There were some things they can work on, too. The presentation allowed for many suggestions on how to grow small businesses in the area. CLUE Group Principal, Kenendy Smith, said the Valley is in such a good place right now, it's about looking to the future for business. 

Kennedy said the Valley is a great place for economic development opportunities and hosting things like "Shark Tank" competitions can help future businesses try out their ideas. 

Kennedy suggested pop-up shops and even mobile shops for businesses to get to the "next level."

Andrea Dono, the executive director for the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, said this study provides a lot of information for the local businesses to take in and try to implement.

"What we're looking forward to is putting some of those tools in place that were recommended for us and continuing to partner with the SPDC, with JMU, with the city, to make some of those things come to fruition in the next few years," said Dono. 

Peirce Macgill, the assistant director of Economic Development for Harrisonburg, said this study was good because it gave Harrisonburg and Rockingham County a chance to work together on a project. He was pleased with the results of the study. 

"Incredibly positive and that may be the most surprising thing about it, just how positive the study was, from people's perceptions downtown, be it students and residents to the retail sales gap," said Macgill.

In February, there is a workshop scheduled for local business owners in the city and county, which can help them to take the ]rst step in right direction to the "next level." The workshop is called "Bricks and Clicks" where local businesses can learn how to make their stores a "destination" offline and online.