2009 was a bad year for the national economy and certainly Botetourt County reflected the downturn.
Major employers and purveyors of tax money for the county were especially hard hit. JTekt announced a closing scheduled for finality in February 2010. The last of the folks at Groendyke finished in early 2009. Botetourt Correctional Center closed. Layoffs happened at Gala Industries and Metalsa. O’Neill Steel closed it’s doors. In other words, 2009 been a year of big hits to the Botetourt economy and at the last Board of Supervisors meeting just prior to Christmas, Botetourt County announced it is $1.5 million in the red.
Hundreds of Botetourt employees faced the unemployment line in 2009 as well.
Other smaller sized businesses also had it rough. Closed restaurants included Izumi, River’s Edge, Ransome’s Fountain and The Fat Cat Diner. Nannies Market closed on Catawba Road as has Air Lee Cleaners, the Affordable Mattress Center, Three Graces and Candy Girlz at Daleville locations. Regionally, Blockbuster Video, including the one at Botetourt Commons, folded.
On the positive side, new business has come to the county or re-grouped. Daleville Frame and Art has hung on — leaving Botetourt Commons for a newly re-opened Roanoke Road location in Oakdale Plaza next to Bank of America. P.Zaz has new ownership.
A new Verizon cell phone store opened in Botetourt Commons after US Cellular left. Dr. Leanna Lawson established a medical practice in Daleville. Eye Care and Surgery and Blue Ridge Optical relocated to a new building. A new Botetourt Physical Therapy group opened in Botetourt Commons. Galloway’s Blueberry Hill Restaurant opened where Izumi and the Fried Pickle were once located. LinzJack Hot Dog Shack also opened this year. A new arts gallery, Creations, came to Buchanan as well as the River Inn as a bed without breakfast on Main Street. Daleville Town Center with Fralin and Waldron and Williams Lighting to be followed by an Imaging Center. Food Lion opened though both they and the Daleville Town Center have plenty of empty space seeking occupants in the pre-built areas on the acreage.
No new major employer came to the county in 2009 and represents the lack of new jobs for those who have lost employment in layoffs or closings at county industry and business. Or, as new revenue collected for the county coffers. The Supervisors have been studying the lack of new industry coming to the county and more of the results on the study should be forthcoming in 2010.
The fall in new construction permits was huge in Botetourt County, less than 100. But, big tanker trucks have begun to go back and forth to Roanoke Cement again. Eight thousand dollar tax credits have opened the real estate market for existing homes in an increase in sales to home buyers. General Shale still has a lot of bricks filling the yard awaiting the return to building of new construction when the housing market gears up again.
Time will tell if the national economy is under a recovery and not just a pronouncement by wishful politicians and economists. Large budget shortfalls in the Commonwealth will lend another bad year to budgeting on the county and school levels, though, as foretold in the preliminary budget proposal by outgoing governor, Tim Kaine.
Botetourt is watching and waiting to see what 2010 brings.