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Your name: John Garrett
Your position: Vice President, Commercial Banking
Company name: TowneBank
Business address: 109 E. Main Street Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Industry: Banking

Describe what the company you work for does and what your position entails:

TowneBank provides banking services to local individuals, families, and businesses. I focus on providing banking services to local businesses. It’s rewarding work to support local businesses goals and objectives.

What is your personal connection to the Elizabeth River Trail?

Born and raised in Norfolk, I’ve lived along and/or around the Trail for nearly my entire life. It’s a phenomenal public amenity for the community, connecting neighborhoods, universities, and attractions to one another highlighting the many unique characteristics that make Norfolk a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. Although the ERT has been around for decades, it’s been special to be involved as a board member since the Foundation’s founding in 2016 as we focus on fundraising, marketing, and planning efforts to continually enhance the experience and inclusivity of the trail.

Why did you/your company decide to provide sponsorship to trail?

Its been a privilege to work for a Bank that takes great pride in investing in the community. Since the ERT provides so many great benefits for the community, it was a perfect marriage. Towne’s been an ardent supporter of the Trail since the Foundation was established and we look forward to the continued partnership in the years to come.

Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what benefits do you feel the trail has for the business community?

The ERT serves as a connector. A connector of neighborhoods, universities, and areas of commerce and trade as it weaves through the city. Creating synergies between these unique aspects of our city drives attention, attraction, and place-making which incentivizes people and businesses to live and operate in the community around it, driving growth and local trade. It’s also a wonderful asset to attract and retain talent as families look for places to live, work and play. More and more around the country we see the value urban trail systems provide, and the ERT is well on its way.

What’s your favorite trail moment?

Raising $4,000,000 to kick-start our Foundation’s efforts to market and enhance the trail above and beyond its state in 2016 was undoubtedly my favorite moment thus far. It proved public and private supporters see value in the trail and the benefits it brings to the community – from economic benefits, to inclusivity, to connecting our diverse city, to promoting healthy/active lifestyles – it proved there is belief and collective buy-in for the many things an urban trail system like our beloved ERT offers. There’s still more to do, more funding opportunities to pursue, but we’re on a great path to turning the ERT into a world-class public amenity and a great source of local pride.
Even better than that, there have been so many great moments as the funds are put to work to enhance the Trail experience from unveiling beautiful wayfinding signage, to the obstacle course and playground at Plum Point Park, to the soon to be unveiled Glowline in Jeff Robertson Park and Norfolk State University trailhead – it’s been special to see everything come to life.

Favorite Trailgrazing spot? (i.e. best local food spot steps from the trail)

If I’m trailgrazing for a beverage, Smartmouth always has something to quench my thirst. If I’m looking for a great place for dinner and to gather with friends, there are so many options; Cure Coffeehouse, The Birch, 411 York, or Orapax – you can’t go wrong!

Best view of the Elizabeth River for the trail?

I personally love the sunsets from Town Point Park, the Pagoda, or Plum Point Park with the marine traffic in the foreground – it doesn’t get much better than that. Especially in the fall!

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