WINCHESTER — The dust has settled following a recent shakeup in the city’s Development Services Department.
Alex Flanigan, a Morgantown, W.Va., native who has lived in Winchester since 2012, joined the department July 22 in the newly created position of community arts and vitality manager. That came on the heels of Shirley Dodson, who had served as the city’s business and workforce development coordinator since 2015, being promoted to business and community development manager.
Flanigan and Dodson are handling and expanding the duties previously held by the Old Town Winchester management office, which shut down on July 1. Former Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell now serves as Harrisonburg’s tourism manager, and former Old Town Coordinator Sarah Acuff Chapman was transferred to a new role as Winchester’s development services assistant within the Development Services Department.
“It’s really awesome to have these roles divvied up, and I’m really enjoying getting to know the merchants downtown,” Dodson said on Tuesday morning.
In her new role, Dodson continues to oversee Winchester’s participation in the Virginia Main Street program, which promotes economic growth in downtown districts throughout the commonwealth, and the city’s Enterprise Zone program, which provides financial incentives for companies to operate in specific areas targeted for redevelopment.
“It was a large part of my job prior, and it’s a large part of my job now,” she said.
Additionally, Dodson and Flanigan are working with the Old Town Advancement Commission and Old Town Winchester Business Association to strategize ways for keeping the downtown business climate vibrant.
Flanigan also assists Dodson with the Main Street program while establishing public arts and cultural initiatives in Winchester, as well as promoting, marketing and coordinating special events.
“I’m working with individual stakeholders, residents and nonprofits to generate and create more artistic visions,” Flanigan said. “The public art [program] is beginning with Old Town because that’s where we have more of a sustainable base to work with in terms of pre-existing projects, but the idea is to take that energy and grow it throughout the city.”
Flanigan, a 2016 graduate of Shenandoah University, is suited for the job because of her strong background in theater, music and performing arts.
“This is my first government position, and I’m really excited to be here,” she said. “I am extremely fortunate because my coworkers made it easy to step into the position that I have.”
“I love working with Alex,” Dodson said. “It’s so exciting.”
For more information, visit developwinchesterva.com.