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November 17, 2008

Mayor of Middleburg


By Karin Tanabe for Bisnow on Business

Though “change” is the buzzword du jour, there are some parts of America not looking to be re-shaped. Betsy Davis, the Mayor of Middleburg, Virginia, would like Middleburg to remain the small idyllic horse country town that it has long been. “When I walk down the street in 10 years, I want it to look the same,” says Davis. Having just started her second term as Mayor in July, the Middleburg native of course wants to see the local economy flourish and the town to go green, but without losing any of the charm that helped put Middleburg on the map.


It was when President Kennedy held a press conference at the Red Fox Inn and started frequenting the town that Middleburg gained national attention. “At the time, my father was a photographer and the only one in Middleburg. He was a friend of Jackie Kennedy’s,” says Davis. Then in grade school, she was busy helping her mother at The Fun Shop, a store her mom opened in 1956 and now co-owned and operated by Davis.


When she was growing up in Middleburg, it was a self-sustained town, with everything needed for daily life. Davis wants to make sure Middleburg remains that way in the future. “780 people live within the town’s limits. It’s the same size that it was when I was a kid. If you live and work here, you should be able to get everything you need locally.” Along with Gold Cup and The Middleburg Races, the town tries to hold four seasonal events a year. Christmas in Middleburg is held on the first Saturday in December and the town is working on a book festival to be held in late winter.


In early 2010 the local scene will change with the opening of Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa. “How lucky we are to have something of this magnitude,” says the Mayor. “It is a change, but I don’t think its presence will alter the feel of the town. I think it will help the town’s economy. We want to have a good mix of visitor and local traffic as businesses rely heavily on both.” 300 out of Salamander’s 380 acres are being put into conservation and there are retail restrictions on the property so that it remains a part of the town and does not become a separate, secluded resort. “A strong economy for the town will help keep tax rates down for residents,” says the Mayor, and she believes Salamander will help make that a reality. You might say it’s change she can believe in.


University of Mary Washington's 15th Annual Leadership Colloquium featured as keynote speaker our friend and sponsor, Hilary Fordwich, center, president of Strelmark business development consultants. Other women in the fun colors included director of alumni relations Cindy Snyder, Dean Rosemary Barra, Dean Meta Braymer, and associate VP for academic affairs Jeanie Kline. As usual, Hilary wowed the crowd with remarks not just on business development but her renowned specialty of how women (like men) can use “business golf” to get ahead. 

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