The Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday it is one-fourth of the way to its capital campaign goal, aided by leadership-level donations from Centra and Liberty University.
Centra is giving $150,000 to the campaign, with an additional $100,000 available to match donations made by small businesses. Liberty is contributing $100,000.
The chamber is trying to raise $2.9 million to remodel and move into the former Billy Joe’s ice cream shop at 312 Border St., just off the Lynchburg Expressway near Candlers Mountain Road.
The chamber purchased the building from Liberty University for $427,500 last year and launched its capital campaign in January.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the campaign has raised $735,000.
Michael Bryant, president and CEO of Centra, and Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., spoke at a chamber news conference Wednesday to announce the donations.
Bryant said the donation is one way Centra tries to improve all aspects of “community health,” including economic development.
Bryant talked about the value of the city’s two largest employers — Centra and Liberty — partnering on this project.
“Together we can have an impact broader than our individual spheres,” he said.
Falwell said he remembered passing the chamber’s current home on Memorial Avenue as a child and thinking it looked beat up back then.
“It’s been used for way past its usable life,” he said.
The new building will provide the chamber with more meeting space, increased parking and temporary office space for chamber members who may need an off-site location to meet with clients.
And, campaign co-chair Georgia Fauber said, it will be a “wonderful welcome mat” for the City of Lynchburg.
Cheri Barauskas, owner of Isabella’s Restaurant, also spoke at Wednesday’s event. Her business donated $5,000, which will become $10,000 through Centra’s matching gift.
“As a small business owner, funds are limited,” Barauskas said. Centra made it easier to support an important engine for the community’s economic growth, she added.
“So thank you, Michael Bryant, for encouraging us,” she said.
There is no hard timeline for the renovation and the move, chamber board member Tulane Patterson said after the news conference, but the board wants to start construction next year if enough money has been raised to be “financially responsible.”
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