Radford POP! provides incentive for businesses to make upgrades

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)— There's a plan in the works to make Radford pop, by encouraging businesses to put their best faces forward.

WDBJ7 photo

If you've driven Downtown Radford in the past few days, you might have noticed planters along Main Street. They were installed last weekend as part of Radford’s beautification process.

The state-of-the-art, self-watering earth planters each hold a bowl of water beneath it that wicks right through the center and provides the perfect amount of moisture to last two to three weeks. Businesses can pay a one-time sponsorship fee and continue to get the planters each year after.

“To get people out and feeling what it’s like to be part of their community, they need to have these flourishes to really want to be there, and when you’re in a beautiful place, you want to be there even more," said Radford Theatre owner Paul Pallante. “The Idea is that we’re providing a maintenance-free solution for our business owners to beautify the outside of their space.”

Pallante serves on the Radford Economic Development Authority and GO! Radford and has been very involved with the project since it was only an idea in the springtime.

Radford POP!, or Paint, Optimize and Plant, is an initiative by the city to incentivize businesses to fix up their storefronts to attract more people to the area.

“I think this was a great idea and I think the other people participating, it’s really going to make an improvement for the downtown," said Cindy Mabry, the manager at P.R. Sturgill Fine Jewelry Ltd. “I think it’s attractive, it looks more welcome and I just think the flowers are beautiful.”

“As in any place, beautification is a key definitely and I think that it will draw more people to Main Street to walk amongst the businesses," said Belinda Blodgett, the owner at Farmer’s Insurance. “I’m super excited about it. I just think it’s beautiful to walk along the Main Street and see them.”

Through Radford POP!, business owners are also encouraged to make upgrades to paint, awnings and signage to help revitalize their storefronts. They will match up to $2,000 for repairs.

“I hope that we get some business owners that are buying in and making some of those repairs and updates that they’ve put off for a while, knowing that they’ve got the help and the backing of the local Radford city organizations," Pallante said.

The money is coming from a grant pool of about $37,000, $10,000 of which came as a donation from First NRV Credit Union.

“When all things are considered, if that small contribution will help support the businesses and the residents of the city, then we’re doing our part," said First NRV Credit Union manager Owen McKinnie.

McKinnie said because they've been in this community for over 80 years, this is a way they can help to support businesses and give back. They have their own Power of 2700 initiative at the bank to have the 2700 members there help local businesses.

“We really want to see people in the city not only get involved, but also be behind a lot of the changes that are going on," McKinnie said.

The Radford Coffee Company was one of the first businesses to take advantage of Radford POP!, and the city is hoping for even more. To apply, businesses can fill out an application here: http://www.radfordva.gov/1064/Radford-POP.

There is no end date on Radford POP! for now, but the planters are done for this season. Pallante hopes more people will catch on next spring to the idea.

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