Altavista Looks To Spur Pop-Up Shops Downtown

Altavista, VA - In-between a bank and and a number of locally-owned shops in the quaint downtown sits several vacancies.Business owner Marvin Hershberger says the empty storefronts don't help with business, even though he says he's seeing more foot traffic nearby.

"Any other businesses in this location would certainly help," said Hershberger.

Linda Rodriguez, the executive director of Altavista On Track, says she's helping start up a local "pop-up program" to help spur development in the town."We want to have activities so people can come eat shop maybe move here and let them know Altavista is a fun place to be," said Rodriguez.The concept is in the name, looking to give at least two entrepreneurs an opportunity to jump-start their business. Rodriguez says there's no application, rather classes to mentor how to run a successful business. Rodriguez says this is to entice and keep businesses long-term rather than keep them for a year or two. The program is modeled after "Pop-Up Marion", which began in 2012 in the Smyth County town. According to the description given on the Town of Marion's website, prospective business owners sign up for Business Basics 101 with a chance at $5,000 of grant funds.

The program has seen it's successes: as of October 2013, Marion officials says 62 new jobs have been created from 13 new businesses filling up eight storefronts.

Rodriguez says she envisions a very similar plan where at the end of the classes, Altavista On Track will award at least two of the best ideas.

"We hope to have at least two $10,000 awards for starter businesses to make it through the first year because that's the most difficult year as you know when starting a business," said Rodriguez.That money, we're told, is coming from donations, town funds and small-business grants."The time is just right were at a crossroads at the time is just perfect," said Rodriguez. "We've enhanced our streets now it's time to enhance our businesses."

Rodriguez says eight people have inquired in the first eight days. She adds classes are expected to begin in January with at least two entrepreneurs chosen in the coming months.

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