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Progress: There’s more to it than the numbers

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When it comes to talking about progress, the current economic times dictate that a different standard be applied. Just a couple of years ago construction was booming, both commercially and in residential housing. Folks were spending money freely and all seemed well.

    But these are different times. The economy has been in recession, money and jobs have been lost and folks are tightening their belts wherever they can.

    In some cases, progress is now being defined as “just holding on.”

    Unemployment in the city of Bedford has risen from 5.8 percent just over a year ago to 9 percent this past August, falling below the 9.6 percent average in the United States, but well above the 6.5 percent average in Virginia. There have been losses and some gains.

    The major construction project underway in the city of Bedford is the 50-unit Joseph’s Dream Apartment development. This development, which began construction in June, will provide housing for low-income seniors in this community. It is expected to be completed this time next year.

    Bedford County is seeing some positive signs in the commercial construction. In the Forest area the Forest Square development continues to see growth with a new Kroger soon to be open along with a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut restaurant unit. In the Lake area a new Food Lion is under construction and the Downtown Moneta development continues to see solid growth. The New London Business and Technology Center is set to soon welcome the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, a $7.6 million, 25,000-square-foot research facility that will house research labs, classroom space and meeting rooms to support applied research and design activities.

    Staff in both the city and county continue to pursue new opportunities and report there are businesses out there still looking to locate here. That’s a good sign. And staff from both local governments are working together to pursue those.

    Of course there’s also the issue of reversion. The city is seeking to revert to town status and staff and elected officials from the city and county continue to meet to work out the details. That could also provide a more cohesive effort in tough economic times and save valuable taxpayer dollars in the long-term.

    But government can only do so much and these days it’s providing less. And that’s not all bad.

    These are times when community makes a difference; these are times when neighbors step up and help meet the needs of their neighbors. From helping keep the city clean and the landscaping and flowers pretty on city property, to providing meals or necessities to those in need — the strength of being part of a community is that we all look out for one another, that we all take responsibility. When that happens there is real progress. That’s something to hold onto, no matter what the economy does.