MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Julian Mei, a Martinsville realtor, is enthusiastically promoting Martinsville and Henry County.
"I've really worked hard with my marketing to get my stuff not just on Zillow and Trulia and stuff like that, but I've put together a massive e-mail database that I just chuck it out to areas and do a lot of geofencing on social media," Mei said.
It's working, but his effort could be even more successful, he says, with help from people like Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
"I attracted a buyer, who came down here from Fairfax (Virginia) to see one property and one property alone. She drove six hours," Mei said.
Warner held a meeting Tuesday morning in Martinsville with Martinsville and Henry County business leaders.
"One thing that would help us, I think, here, is it's such on a local level that we might need, and benefit a little bit from some more upper level state and federal expertise regarding, as (Warner) said, investment, funding," Mei explained.
Investment and funding for programs like opportunity zones, which allow companies that open in economically depressed areas to have the majority of their taxes waived if they stay there for at least 10 years.
"I think there's still questions about this, but I'm interested in taking advantage of this in communities that need that extra help," Warner said.
Warner said he'd like to make entrepreneurship easier in places like Martinsville and Henry County.
"Right now, it's way too easy for a business to start in northern Virginia. It's harder to start in some of these communities. I want to make sure we take full advantage of these tax incentive programs so we can drive more entrepreneurship in rural southwest Virginia," he said.
That enthusiasm, Mei hopes, will help put a bigger, more consistent spotlight on the area.
"People find us on Zillow, they find us on Realtor and then some of us who are working really hard to use certain marketing techniques, we might hook them. But what we need is a big projector," Mei said.