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Community Spotlight: Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:45 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In this week’s Community Spotlight, we’re putting the spotlight on downtown Harrisonburg. Andrea Dono, the executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, is excited about 2021, hoping this is the year to bring back events and people into downtown Harrisonburg.

“A vibrant downtown is so important to our community because it’s essentially our biggest billboard, so recruiters and people thinking about moving here check out the downtown to see what the scene is like. This is a great place for small businesses to get started and succeed,” Dono said. “People need a heart of their community and ... a place where they can come together and walk around and enjoy small businesses or our local history.”

Harrisonburg City Council founded HDR in 2003 with a goal of reversing downtown’s decline.

“Back then, downtown wasn’t what we are familiar with today,” Dono said. “It was a downtown that had a lot of vacancies, a lot of abandoned buildings and not a lot of businesses and people coming here.”

HDR is working on a roadmap 20 years into the future as part of the downtown master plan. You can submit your ideas online with your vision for downtown.

“They can go on this really awesome map, and they can drop a pin and say, ‘I would really love to see fill-in-the-blank right here, or this is a place where I feel a little uncomfortable crossing the street. Can we improve this?” Dono added.

HDR’s biggest fundraiser is the Friendly City Fortune Raffle, in which it will give away $250,000 in cash and prizes on July 31. Tickets are on sale for the raffle now.

“This is a really important fundraiser for us,” Dono said. “We try and make it a lot of fun. When people support our raffle, they can have a chance to win a great prize, so it’s a win-win for the community for our organization and also for the winners too.”

To learn more about the Friendly City Fortune Raffle and to participate in the master plan for downtown, visit HDR’s website.

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