Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Roanoke International Corridor Growing Legs

It is beginning to look like an idea Christina Koomen had nearly a year ago and which I wrote about here is getting some momentum.

Christina's thought was to create an International Corridor along Williamson Road, marking foreign- and immigrant-owned businesses with a distinctive flag and helping to form a community that would make what is one of Roanoke's least attractive roads distinctive and culturally sophisticated. This community would display its flags and sponsor occasional events to highlight its international flavor.

Pearl Fu of Local Colors is enthusiastic about it, as are many others. Getting Pearl on board is crucial because she gets things done.

Williamson Road is known primarily for the Motor Mile cruise event that will take place this weekend and for its scattership, decades-old lack of a development plan. It looks thrown together because it is. Still, it can be made much more appealing to both Roanokers and visitors by highlighting its distinctive mix of those international businesses--ranging from restaurants and food stores to garages and other businesses. The Hispanic farmer's market at Happy's on weekends is a real treat in its cultural mix.\

I just got a note from City Manager Chris Morrill telling me that he has had discussions with some key players and has asked the economic development people to work on getting this done. My pal Jeff Rigdon of Roanoke Vikings has had a booth at Happy's for the past few weekends (promoting the Vikings) and had discussions about the idea with Happy's manager, who was enthusiastic and supportive.

Chris suggested that the Williamson Road Area Business Association is looking closely at working with this, as well.

So, we could have this take off in the near future and I want everybody who likes the idea to thank Christina. She's one of these people whose ideas are always great, but who never really takes credit for anything. This is a great idea and it belongs to her.

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