Ranson Renewed progress slowed with fed shutdown

Improvements to Fairfax Boulevard will soon link George Street in Charles Town to the Potomac Marketplace.

Improvements to Fairfax Boulevard will soon link George
Street in Charles Town to the Potomac Marketplace.

Ranson is a small city in the Washington D.C. area that has struggled through years of economic challenges, including the closure of several major manufacturing plants and the loss of hundreds of jobs.

But Ranson is poised for an economic and community revival, with new businesses seeking to locate in the city and new community improvement projects underway. For a look at what is underway in Ranson one need look no farther than RansonRenewed.com and CityofRansonWV.net.

A critical factor in Ranson’s comeback has been the support it has received from the federal government — including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation — on important infrastructure improvement, brownfield redevelopment and community revitalization projects.

The city has struggled with the shutdown of a manufacturing plant and the loss of hundreds of jobs at sites the Kidde Brass Foundry. Ranson has been striving to create a reuse of the vacant Kidde property that brings back jobs and economic revitalization to our downtown. That is why Ranson has been so pleased to obtain grant and guaranteed loan funding, with the support of its state congressional delegation, the EPA and HUD for brownfields revitalization at the Kidde site and for the creation of the “Powhatan Place” commercial center.

Ranson is on the verge of a major development at Powhatan Place that would bring private sector investment, new commercial small businesses, new jobs, new tax revenues and other benefits to an area that is currently polluted, degraded, unsightly and unsafe. Ranson reached a key point of agreement with a private sector development entity on moving forward on this project, on the condition that the EPA and HUD funding can be used to prepare the site for redevelopment. This agreement was reached on Oct. 1 – the day the federal government shut down. During the shutdown, Ranson officials were unable to reach key federal program managers to approve the next stages of our redevelopment project and the city received a stop work order on its EPA brownfield grant. Without the ability to coordinate with these dedicated federal public servants at EPA and HUD, Ranson’s economic development and job creation projects stalled. This came at a time when the private sector developer at Powhatan Place is trying to gather equity investors and make other critical, time-sensitive decisions.

Ranson’s future depends on the success of the Powhatan Place project.

Fairfax Boulevard is the site of Ranson’s annual car show.

Fairfax Boulevard is the site of Ranson’s annual car show.

The unnecessary and harmful shutdown was a job-killer and its duration impacted even small towns like Ranson. Congress needs to find a solution to these unnecessary and harmful showdowns by the U.S. government. We are pleased that there has been a resolution to the current shutdown situation. We would like to be able to continue the necessary conversations with the appropriate federal parties involved.

— David Hamill is the mayor of Ranson

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