Creating Wealth and Fostering Pride in the Community
In her Town of Leesburg position, Marantha Edwards saw big projects and small ordinance changes foster growth in the business community.
When Marantha Edwards, Leadership Loudoun class of 1997, was looking for ways to learn more about the county and town she had lived in since she was a teen, she looked to LL. “I knew I wanted to be involved. I knew I wanted to make a difference. Leadership Loudoun was an important opportunity for me to translate my private sector work in the airline industry to the public sector. Meeting key people in key roles and business leaders was exciting and energizing.”
That experience also helped her transition to working in the public sector. She spent two years with Loudoun County Public Schools before being hired by the Town of Leesburg in 2000 as the tourism coordinator and later becoming the economic development manager. “I was born in to a family of creative, talented, hardworking entrepreneurs, so I had great respect for independent business owners and was delighted to support them at any chance I got,” she said. “Economic development work is critical to the wellbeing of any community. The goal is to create wealth for the area through job creation, capital investment and the growth of commercial tax revenues to offset the residential tax burden,” she continued.
As part of a committed leadership team at the Town of Leesburg, Edwards was involved in many projects and programs, including a tourism plan; a business development strategy; Crescent Place; The Village at Leesburg, the first mixed-use project in Loudoun County; Mason Enterprise Center; and many more economic wins for Leesburg and Loudoun County. “It’s been great to watch downtown Leesburg grow into a cool, hip, arts, entertainment, and dining epicenter,” she said.
Edwards also helped develop and update town ordinances, a less exciting but extremely important and rewarding element of her work. “Whether it was changes to the sign ordinance; business process changes; or initiating brew pubs, micro-brews, or light industrial ordinance changes, all those elements made starting a business in Leesburg much smoother than previous years. That process is often invisible to the citizens. It isn’t until new businesses, new hang outs, or new jobs become visible, that they appreciate the benefits of making changes to the Town Plan and ordinances,” Edwards said.
Edwards passion for Leesburg and as a great place to live, work and play continues, and she has advice for the community: “I think citizens and business owners should know that the town council, planning commission, board of architectural review, and staff members need and want to hear from them. Pay attention to what is happening in your town. Without being just a ‘negative noise maker,’ there are many ways to get engaged in strategies, plans, and events to ensure Leesburg stays at the top! Raise strong, smart, active, creative kids and teach them why it is important to be involved with your town.”