My name is Casey Jenkins, the new director for Downtown Blacksburg Inc. (DBI), a nonprofit business advocacy group in downtown Blacksburg. We are a membership organization dedicated to fostering community and economic development in the downtown district.

Although I have only been in the role for about two months, most of which during this novel pandemic, one thing is very clear to me. Downtown Blacksburg is comprised of a plethora of small businesses that have a common denominator: resiliency.

That is the word I keep coming back to during this health crisis. Our small business community is made up of many individuals who demonstrate resiliency and grit at every corner. I see downtown merchants mobilizing in unprecedented ways to remain solvent as businesses pivot to curbside and delivery operations as well as promoting the value of gift cards to buy now and use later. These and many other creative strategies have allowed our business community to reach out to their customers.

While some of our merchants have temporarily closed their doors to comply with the governor's executive order, they are still here and migrating sales to online platforms as they learn new approaches and strategies to employ through direct response marketing. Many of these folks have found success in new approaches that will sustain them well past the pandemic.

Yesterday I read a quote from George Lopez which read “when things are bad, it’s the best time to reinvent yourself,” and that is exactly what I see of our downtown businesses. A sense of resiliency and perseverance to endure this crisis by finding new ways to adapt and remain open. This inspires me to do my very best work as an advocate for our small business community.

I would also like to applaud and thank our local community for hearing the call to action to support local. It warms my heart to see the Blacksburg community and its residents wrap their arms around our merchants during this time by buying local.

We are a strong community filled with strong merchants and that strength is predicated on resiliency. My heart is with all of you and I know we will prevail through this storm together. Stay safe and be well.

We are downtown strong.

CASEY JENKINS

BLACKSBURG

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