July 15, 2015
Cameron Foundation partners with Prince George County on community gateway project
The Cameron Foundation will begin a new joint effort with Prince George County to revitalize the county’s major hub for tourism, the South Crater Road Exit 45 off of Interstate 95. Plans were formalized in the county’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting last night with approval of an agreement between the two parties.
Through the partnership, Prince George County will construct and maintain a community gateway at the exit, including gateway spires, lighting, landscaping, and other site improvements. The total estimated cost for the Exit 45 Gateway Project is $940,000. The Foundation is committing up to 50% of the total cost.
“The Cameron Foundation has an interest in partnering with local governments to undertake high quality streetscape and gateway improvements that will spur economic development, foster community pride, and enhance the civic image,” noted Cameron President J. Todd Graham. “At the Foundation, we are interested in supporting projects that go above and beyond what the local government would normally undertake on its own. By doing so, we are leveraging our combined resources for greater impact,” he added. Graham emphasized that gateways can contribute significantly to creating a unique sense of place that is important to promoting tourism and investment in a community. The Prince George County Community Gateway Project is an example of one of the Foundation’s more recent proactive strategies to support its mission to transform the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties into a healthy, vibrant, and economically vital region by strategically leveraging resources for community impact.
Prince George County officials previously had worked with Management Analysis, Inc. (MAI) to research the South Crater Road exit and recommend strategies for revitalizing the corridor. Exit 45 was found to be the county’s central point for tourism, contributing jobs and tax revenue to the local economy. It also had the highest concentration of hotel rooms in the county. After Fort Lee opened a new 1,000-room hotel in January 2013, businesses at Exit 45 in Prince George, particularly hotels and restaurants, suffered major declines of an estimated 30%, according to MAI’s report.
Prince George County Administrator Percy C. Ashcraft said, “This project is an important component of a much larger plan to revitalize the commercial hub at Exit 45. We are in the process of implementing several of the recommendations from MAI’s report, including the need to improve the streetscape along that exit. We are coordinating with area businesses to improve the overall appearance, and with this additional support from The Cameron Foundation, we will be better positioned to draw motorists from the highway to stop in Prince George, dine and stay in our local hotels. These revenues are so important to our local economy.” He added, “We expect the Community Gateway Project will put us on a more equal footing to compete for those tourism and traveler dollars.” It is estimated that 40,000 vehicles travel through that area on Interstate 95 per day.
Graham shared that the Foundation is in discussion with a number of other localities in the Tri-Cities area about engaging in similar efforts. “We are working with the localities in our service area to improve the quality of life for residents and support vibrant communities. Prince George County already had begun its own work to stimulate the local economy by making improvements to the hospitality district at that exit, and it fit well with our priorities for community and economic development in the region. These tangible, visible projects have the potential to transform community,” he said.
ABOUT THE CAMERON FOUNDATION
Founded in 2003, The Cameron Foundation is a private foundation that was formed from the proceeds of the sale of Southside Regional Medical Center by the Hospital Authority of the City of Petersburg. Its service area includes the region historically served by the hospital and includes the cities of Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell; the counties of Dinwiddie, Prince George, and Sussex; and the portion of Chesterfield County lying south of Route 10. Since it began grantmaking in 2004, the Foundation has awarded $71 million to organizations serving the residents of the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties.