By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 6, 2020 | 12:30 p.m
PRINCE GEORGE – While 2019 has wrapped, many of the economic development gains Prince George County made throughout the last year will leave lasting impacts on the county for years to come as Prince George found success in marketing itself as a premiere sports tourism destination and one of the county’s growing corridors continues to become home to new businesses.
Here is a look back at some of the key economic development announcements made in Prince George County as reported by The Prince George Journal throughout 2019.
Tree Time Adventures Opens in the Heart of Scott Park
Last year brought about one of the most anticipated business openings of 2019 as Tree Time Adventures – the region’s first tree-based adventure park – opened its doors to eager patrons in August.
Sitting on over 100 acres of county-owned land that is being leased to owner-operator John Bogue, Tree Time showcases the rugged and diverse terrain of Scott Park’s undeveloped topography and its rich network of mature trees thanks to a series of bridges, Tarzan swings, and a zip line that guides visitors through the facility. Along with the tree-based experiences, which only make up roughly a third of the leased property, various trails move throughout Tree Time’s development, featuring paths of a quarter-mile, half-mile, with plans for a one-mile course already underway.
While Bogue had planned to open Tree Time shortly after classes in the county wrapped for the year in June of last year, the park’s soft opening was delayed until mid-July, followed by August’s special ceremonial ribbon cutting featuring members of the park’s staff, county officials, and Delegate Emily Brewer (R-64), who later geared up to journey the trees of Scott Park.
At the August event, both John and Lesly Bogue were visibly excited to be able to share their love for the outdoors and family-friendly fun with the community of Prince George and those living beyond the county’s borders.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he shared. “I’m extremely pleased with the community’s reaction. Business has been up and down but we seem to be filling our bookings a little bit quicker so I think word is getting out. I can’t wait to get started on the next phase. I just want to bring people as many reasons to come out and play.”
Holding his key to the county, a token of support and recognition given to Bogue by Prince George County, he reflected on the journey to bringing Tree Time to the county, which actually began as a stop in Dinwiddie County that ended when both the county’s planning commission and board of supervisors declined the project, citing community concerns regarding the park’s proposed location in the winter of last year.
“It is exciting and I can’t thank the leadership out here enough for giving me the opportunity to come out here and do this,” he remarked. “And, of course, my vision is to continue to see this park grow. I already have my sights on some other things, too, so, once I get my wheels moving, it kinda has a snowball effect.”
To learn more about Tree Time, visit their website at http://treetimeadventures.com, which houses information on pricing, discounts, employment opportunities, and inclement weather information.
Successful Pitch Lands Prince George 2021 Dixie World Series
In September, the county celebrated the decision of Dixie Softball, Inc. to allow Prince George County to serve as the host community for the 2021 Dixie Softball World Series, reinforcing the county’s efforts to advertise Prince George as an ideal venue for sports tournaments.
According to county officials, Prince George County will host the 2021 Dixie Softball World Series for both the Darlings division (7-8 years old) and the Angels X-play division (9-10 years old). The Dixie Softball World Series in 2021 will host teams from eleven states across the south and, as the host, Prince George County will be allowed to enter a team in both divisions to compete for the title.
“The county was very excited to bid on this World Series event,” deputy county administrator Jeff Stoke shared in an October interview with The Prince George Journal. “We have been working with baseball and softball tournaments for sometime, and knowing that our teams are affiliated with Dixie Softball, we felt the preparedness of our facilities and our staff, now is the right time to go after an event of this magnitude.”
Even though the announcement of Prince George’s selection came last week, the county had been engaged with the league on the prospect of hosting the World Series for several months.
When it was time for Prince George to make their pitch, the county showcased its facilities and the surrounding community in a four-cover brochure, alongside a PowerPoint presentation and five-minute video that showed the locality’s passion for Dixie Softball.
“We really showed that we have a little bit of everything,” he remarked. “We had hotels at Exit 45 and we have over 600 hotel rooms in Prince George County. We have the restaurants and we have the features where if you have some downtime, whether if you win the whole thing or lose out early, both in Prince George County, like Swaders Sports Park and Tree Time Adventures, or if they want to tack on a family vacation on the end and stay in the Commonwealth,” noting options like Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion just off major interstates that link to Prince George.
On a daily basis, the county’s lodging options generate revenue and, with a tournament of this scale, Prince George stands to benefit as a boost to the county’s lodging tax revenue can be expected, which goes into the county’s tourism fund and supports tourism-related projects in a similar vein to how funds from the county’s economic development fund, which receives its revenue through the collection of meals taxes, can only be used for economic development-related projects.
“Tourism begets more tourism,” he said lightheartedly.
According to Stoke, the fields at J.E.J. Moore Middle School will serve as the host venue for the 2021 tournament, who noted the facility has the assets to support the event, with a general timetable of July to August 2021 for the week-long event to take place, adding that the successful Dixie Softball bid is only the beginning of the county’s sports tourism efforts.
“We are always going to be looking for other opportunities and tournaments,” Stoke said. “Variety is good, you never want to put all of your eggs in one basket, but we hope to one day win another Dixie World Series in the future.”
“I think this shows the investments we have made in our facilities and our community really shown through to the national committee, and you had a group of people from all over the Southern United States say we are going to select Prince George County, Virginia and it wasn’t by accident. It was the hard work of a lot of dedicated people in this community who made it happen,” he closed.
Growth in Puddledock Corridor Continues in 2019
Anyone traveling along Temple Avenue and Puddledock Road in the county over the last decade would be hard pressed to have not noticed the growth at the intersection all the way to the county’s borders with Colonial Heights and Petersburg as more businesses select the county and the corridor for their business interests.
In June, one of those new businesses was popular gas station and convenience store chain Sheetz, who opened their first location in Prince George along Temple Avenue between the Tri-City Emergency Center and BetterMed Urgent Care.
The new location in Prince George is the first for Sheetz in Prince George and joins a pair of locations in Petersburg along Wagner Road and in Colonial Heights on Conduit Road.
“Prince George County is just elated to have Sheetz build its 590th convenience store in the Puddledock area,” County Administrator Percy Ashcraft shared after the summertime grand opening. “Sheetz is a highly-reputable, family-owned business that has been successful for decades. Included in its mission is to give back to the community in numerous ways. We appreciate the jobs that have been created and the expansion of our business tax base.”
Featuring multiple bays for fueling, their famous “Made-To-Order” menu of hot foods, fresh salads, and refreshing drinks, and a full-service car wash, the new Sheetz location has become a popular stop for travelers and residents alike.
“I must say that every community that we have had the pleasure or the opportunity to do business in, have been good community partners for us,” said Louie Sheetz, Director, Sheetz Board. “I can’t tell you when we didn’t have good community partners. This community of Prince George though has been especially warm, welcoming, and helpful; and we don’t always get that initially. Not everybody in communities is looking for new development. That was certainly not the case here in Prince George. Everyone has been so helpful, and you can tell by the crowd here that everyone is excited, even without a lot of prior fanfare, advertising, or excitement. There are so many out here to help us celebrate our opening.
“We are more than pleased with the opening of this, Sheetz Store 657, and that gives Sheetz a total of 590 stores, all of them family-owned. We are grateful, proud, and humbled,” he closed.
Just a short walk away from the new Sheetz store, Virginia Physicians for Women opened their expanded office just off Puddledock Road last summer, a state-of-the-art, one-story facility that replaced their former home just across the multi-lane road.
VPFW’s first Prince George location originally opened in 1994, with 4,000 square feet designed to accommodate three providers. In 2011, with a great increase in patients from surrounding counties and the Tri-Cities, VPFW moved into their current 7,500 square foot building that can house up to five providers. During the seven years at VPFW’s present Prince George facility, there continued to be a tremendous increase in patients and requests for services, and VPFW again outgrew its Prince George facility.
The new VPFW building is more than double the size of their former home, with accommodations for eight providers and additional space to expand their existing patient services, including ultrasound and mammography.
“We are proud of this continued growth in the Prince George community as a trusted partner in women’s health,” Said Sarah Faulkner, PHR, CEBS, Human Resources Manager, Virginia Physicians for Women. “With the continued increase in patient load, from all of the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties such as Prince George, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Surry, and Chesterfield, the need for a much larger facility, additional physicians, and additional personnel, was clear. We will be able to see more patients, increase services, and improve our patients’ experiences. VPFW providers and employees are committed to serving the community with exceptional customer service and quality healthcare.”
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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