Ferrum College joins forces with community to open new business venture.

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Ferrum College has joined forces with its hometown to open the Ferrum Mercantile across from the campus on Route 40.

The college acquired the 6,000-square-foot property in Ferrum earlier this summer, and $500,000 in renovations are under way.  Plans for the Mercantile include a Papa John’s Pizza franchise, a deli, a seasonal farmers market and Blue Ridge arts and crafts. A small performance stage for local talent also will be added to complement Ferrum’s location on Virginia’s Crooked Road music trail.

“Colleges and universities across the country are taking advantage of similar purchases to expand their campuses and gain better control over their ‘front doors,’" Ferrum College President Jennifer Braaten said in a statement.

Besides generating added revenue for the college, boosters hope the new venture will encourage visitors to spend more time in Ferrum. “The benefits to students include internships and employment opportunities, while the farmers market will enhance the college’s sustainability and local foods initiatives,” Braaten said.

According to Bobby Thompson, special assistant to the president for project development, the college’s master plan has long supported community development and enhancing the Route 40 corridor through economic, educational and entrepreneurial initiatives.

The Ferrum Mercantile should be open for business later this year.

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