Good Biz-Ness

Thursday, January 18, 2007

BizNet Village sounds like the kind of name you'd give to a business park for small companies and contractors on the cutting edge of cyber-technology. But it's not.

"Catchy name, huh?," says Mary Kay Horoszewski, Executive Director of the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation, who explains that, in fact, it is the name of a brand-new, 24-unit intermediate care facility in Virginia Beach for adults with profound mental retardation for which ground was broken in October.

[Photo: BizNet artist rendition]
BizNet artist rendition

"It could as easily be named Homegrown House," Horoszewski comments, "VBCDC was first approached in 2004 by the City's Department of Human Services and the board of BizNet, Inc. - a local non-profit dedicated to expanding housing resources for people with disabilities - to see if we could make their vision a reality. Instead of waiting for some new grant program or initiative from on high, we went to work putting together more than $3 million in funds from HUD, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the City of Virginia Beach and, most importantly, contributions from committed local companies and citizens to make their dream come true."  A key contribution, provided by the City Council of Virginia Beach, was the donated land.  "Without this (donated land) the project would not have been possible", Horoszewski said.  VBCDC also provided about $20,000 of its rental income for pre-development activities and a CDBG grant of $750,000 to be used toward construction costs.

And it's coming true fast, with the two, 7500-square-foot buildings are expected be ready for occupancy by late summer 2007.  Once open, residents will receive 24-hour service, with each building including plenty of residential and recreational space for occupants, but also for staff from VBCDC and the Department of Human Services.  

Horoszewski is pleased at how quickly the Biznet Village partnership has moved on the project.  "But it's still only a beginning," she notes, estimating that there are still at least 200 other City residents with profound mental retardation who could use the same kind of facilities.  "BizNet Village goes a long way to meeting an urgent need among some of our most vulnerable residents.  But there is a much, much longer way to go to meet all the needs."


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