Middleburg is a special place with a genuine history and uniquely abiding sense of community. We are a community concerned for the well-being of the town; the quality of life for both its citizens and the businesses which choose to call Middleburg home. Recently Middleburg has been faced with some economic challenges. It’s important to point out this is not unique to Middleburg. All communities experience periods of economic change. The important thing is how communities come together to meet those challenges and chart a path forward. We believe Middleburg is not in a period of decline but opportunity. It is for this purpose we have created the Middleburg Futures Group.
MFG is a cross section of Middleburg citizens, business, and government leaders, bringing a diverse and broad range of experiences. The members of this team represent a dynamic set of organizations whose purpose is to support our economic development: The Town Council, Middleburg Business and Professional Association (MBPA), the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), and the Town Planning Commission. Each organization is equally represented with three people from the Town Council, MBPA and EDAC, and one from the Planning Commission.
These 10-dedicated individuals have a simple mission: identify and understand the true issues facing the Town, develop a plan to address them, and then implement that plan in partnership with the community. This team is focused on action, not words; results, not studies. We are also formed around several important core principles: We are here for Middleburg; our goal is not to change it, but to preserve it and help it prosper for everyone: Citizens, business owners and visitors alike. It is our belief this will be a long-term partnership where we will all drive forward the shared success of Middleburg.
We are excited to say that we are already well on the road to success. Our first step in the process was to discover the popular opinions of Middleburg. Why do people come here and why do they come back? What do they love about the town and where could it be improved? What does Middleburg mean to them personally? Answers to these questions are important from the perspective of locals and visitors alike. To find these answers, we developed a detailed survey, asking people a variety of questions. What they best-loved about Middleburg, why it holds a special place for them, what we are most known for, what we need to protect and what we need to improve.
We wanted to know if visitors appreciated Middleburg for the same reasons as locals, or for different reasons. To distribute the survey to a large pool of potential respondents, we partnered with local businesses, large economic development organizations and event organizers. The turnout was incredible, with over 1,100 responses; 50% of those coming from locals and 50% from those who live more than 20 miles from Town.
We learned three key facts. First, the reason we as citizens and locals treasure Middleburg: a peaceful rural community in the heart of Virginia horse country; is the same reason visitors value Middleburg. Second, visitors come to Middleburg for the experience that is Middleburg because it is an escape from the common and ordinary, and while here they shop and eat as a part of that greater experience. Finally, it is the experience we create of community, equestrian events and our idyllic countryside that brings people here initially and as repeat visitors. Because of this, we know the Middleburg experience is our greatest attraction, and we must build upon it.
The Middleburg Futures Group had its first session in late March where we examined these results and identified the core issues. Next, we will look outside Middleburg to understand regional problems and seek out possible success stories for inspiration. Our next meeting will be held over two days in early May, and our goal is to develop a detailed action plan. The team is thoughtful and energized. We look forward to getting to work to help improve conditions for existing businesses, to attract new businesses to town and to capitalize on the special Middleburg experience for locals and visitors alike.
We have heard and felt your concerns. Concerns have been raised on everything from high vacancy rates and high retail rents to lack of parking, limited dining options and inconvenient store hours. These are some of the main issues we will address with the plan we undertake. We will examine these issues and fully understand the challenges to developing a plan that the community can support. With this, we will create and execute the right solutions. We cannot plot the correct course without your help. We invite anyone to reach out with questions, thoughts and most importantly to lend a hand.