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Revitalizing Martinsville

A man wearing a black shirt is standing on the left smiling at a woman wearing a long-sleeve green shirt on a city street.
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A VMI Cadet returns to Martinsville to help revitalize his hometown and mentor others.

Derrick Ziglar, who was a Martinsville high school football star and graduated from VMI, found success in real estate in Dallas. He recently returned home to help revitalize his community by buying property, serving on boards and mentoring others. Local business owner Natalie Hodge said, “Derrick represents a young person who’s come back and who’s investing time and talent into the community.” 


DERRICK ZIGLAR, JR. (CEO & OWNER, ZIGLAR PROPERTIES, LLC): So, we're in the middle of uptown Martinsville, right in front of the old courthouse. From Fayette Street up, which is everything going this way, this would've been pretty much where all your white businesses were, whereas everything from Fayette Street down would've been where your African American businesses in those neighborhoods as well. As you're seeing in the scheme of everything here change, you're seeing more African Americans come up here for business, we're seeing more African Americans as building owners as well, and so they're starting to bring that mix within our community and closing the gap of what that separation has been.

So, I came from Fayette Street. That was like the rough area of Martinsville, and so my mom did a lot, been through a lot, and I had to grow up fast. The unique thing is because I'm in my hometown, everybody knows that. They've seen me go through high school and playing sports, and then they go off to VMI. Now I return home, I buy property, I sit on the boards and I'm spending time with my fraternity, investing in our community. So right now we're on the corner of Church Street.

Right here you have the setback building, so in this space particularly, we have my office in the basement, we have an ice cream shop, Sweet Heaven, that's right there on the main floor. And then on the third floor, there's an apartment there that I actually leverage as an Airbnb. The other building beside it is called the Jefferson Plaza. We have insurance agents. We have some different like self-care type of things for women. We have an adoption agency, we have therapists, we have mental health facilities, hairstylists, we have gym, we have an event space. So, we have quite a few different things within our building, which is good because it brings a mix of different people uptown, which is ultimately the goal to see that growth there.

SPENCER KOGER (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UPTOWN PARTNERSHIP): The second floor is basically done. Derrick's ownership of the Jefferson is absolutely critical. That area has become a focal point for downtown. It's connected with everything from the Bridge Street parking lot all the way up. Derrick's building, as well as the central of the other buildings beside of it, are really going to pop off between one or the other and really showcase that businesses can survive here and businesses can grow.

NATALIE HODGE (OWNER RUDY’S GIRL MEDIA): When they put the banner up, it was around the time we were opening somewhere. Derrick is the catalyst for a lot of great things that are going on in the community because he represents a young person who's come back and who's investing time and talent into the community. When that happens, people start to imagine the possibilities.

DEVYN GILL (OWNER, GILL’S GYM): Derrick is revitalizing Martinsville because it gives the small town kid hope that they can do it too. There's a lot of kids that are driving past a lot of these buildings and whatnot, never even thinking about owning them. And so now that they see him do it, they see that it's possible.

DERRICK ZIGLAR, JR.: So we're heading into Gill Fitness training.

DEVYN GILL: I'm one of the hometown kids that I was talking about. I saw him do it and I'm like, okay, while everybody else is clapping and whatnot, which I was too, I'm like, it's not just me looking at him with adoration saying must be nice. I'm thinking if he got it, so can I. I told Derrick, if somebody gave me an opportunity, I was going to take it and run with it. He was the one that gave me the opportunity so my goal every day is to prove him right in that regard.

DERRICK ZIGLAR, JR.: It's not about just me being successful and me living a life that's fulfilling for what I want to do when I'm an old man, but it is truly about helping others do the same. And if I can enjoy that with other people that I've got to be a part of their story, then it makes life even more enjoyable.


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