The Christiansburg Aquatic Center generated controversy over whether expenses would become a drain on the town. Agreements like a 2016 deal with Radford have pulled in enough revenue to prove critics wrong. The Example of Awesome story also highlights a lucrative deal with Virginia Tech’s swimming and diving teams.

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In Marion, Virginia – the town being followed for a year – town leaders made a concerted effort to nurture its small businesses. “So many great things have happened,” said Ken Heath, the town’s economic development chief. “I truly believe it all started back when we started taking care of the heart of the community – when we started concentrating on downtown, and realizing that if your downtown is vacant, boarded up, it’s not a place people want to come.”

Elsewhere in the Save Our Towns episode, Ann Brown shows that a billion-dollar source for federal grant money might be closer than you think. The expert tip comes from Eric Dixon of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, who also identifies funding sources. And Christiansburg’s Mike Barber answers Three Questions for a Mayor.

Award-winning Save Our Towns is produced by Outreach and International Affairs and distributed to mayors and town managers throughout Appalachian Virginia and beyond.