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Small business owner aims to make Richmond thrive with Building a Better RPS

RICHMOND, Va. -- Scott Garnett’s coffee shop is appropriately named Lift.

“This is kind of a focal point for people,” said Garnett. “It’s the speed of Richmond. The quality of life. It’s the community.”

Garnett rolled the dice 12 years ago and opened the store on a stretch of Broad Street that back then was rundown. But the U of R grad from Arlington envisioned great potential in downtown.

Scott Garnett

Scott Garnett

“This was vacant. It was pretty much vacant,” said Garnett. “This is going back to the way it should have been. This used to be a shopping district.”

The realtor has become a champion for his adopted hometown. Garnett has witnessed the birth of downtown Richmond firsthand.

“Look around. It is amazing,” he said. “It has been a game changer. I would have loved to have taken some pictures before and after. It is night and day.”

One area of Richmond that is close to Garnett’s heart? Classrooms. Garnett, a parent of two, spearheads the non-profit Building a Better RPS.

Building a Better RPS

Building a Better RPS

“If you fix schools, you fix communities. You increase tax base,” said Garnett. “The sense of community… people want to get involved, people want to help.”

Last summer the group recruited volunteers, parents and businesses to donate time and money.

“It was staggering how many people came out. It was very humbling,” said Garnett.  “It is limitless what could happen.”

The group working with the school administration landscaped, scrubbed, rebuilt and repaired several schools across the River City. The group even helps establish PTAs where there was none.

Building a Better RPS

Building a Better RPS

With his business and non-profit humming don’t expect Garnett to pull up stakes and shove off to the suburbs anytime soon.

“Richmond is awesome,” said Garnett. “I’ve been here 26 years so I’ve seen a great turn already. But I know the potential it could go to and we’re almost there.”

Beyond the boost from a caffeinated cup of Joe at his coffee shop, Scott Garnett is providing a lift to the city as a whole.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else. This is where I want to raise my family. This is where I want to do my business. This is where I live and play.”

If you know of someone with a story to tell email me at Ihaveastory@wtvr.com.