JMU Graduate Town’s New Economic Development Director

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March 19, 2021
Daily News-Record  3/19/21
Dayton’s new economic development director, Meggie Roche, hit the ground running, according to Angela Lawrence, town manager.
Roche’s first day was Jan. 19. The Fredericksburg native graduated from James Madison University in 2018 and majored in communication and minored in political science, Roche said.
She first began to learn about economic development from her time interning with Spotsylvania County part time in the summers of 2015 and 2016. She then worked remotely during her time at JMU and was hired by the county upon graduation, where she worked until she started her job in Dayton.
“I think economic development has so much to do with the health of a community,” Roche, 25, said.
The position was created in the town’s newest budget to begin in January, according to Lawrence.
The job is the duties of the former events and marketing coordinator combined with new duties covering economic development, business retention, recruitment and planning, she said.
“The events are beneficial to the downtown merchants, but that and doing advertising for retail is not a long-term, big-picture economic development approach,” Lawrence said.
Roche has been publishing a monthly newsletter for the town’s businesses to keep them in the loop of all the resources available, including grants and webinars.
“I think COVID has been a challenge for a lot of our businesses,” Roche said.
The town is also working on a new wayfinding sign program to ensure visitors and those unfamiliar with the town can find their way to the downtown district, she said.
Also on Roche’s plate is planning some of Dayton’s famous events, which will return this year after having been canceled by the COVID- 19 pandemic in 2020.
Roche said she is working on making sure the Redbud Festival, Dayton Days, the Dayton Muddler and the upcoming Easter Bunny mini-parade are a success.
“I think everyone has been so nice and welcoming, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings,” Roche said.