RDA CEO earns historic real estate certification

News Release

Media Contact

Contact: Kirsten Aherron                                  

Tel: 434-791-0210                                                                                                                                


Date: January 9, 2024                                         


Danville VA - On December 1, Diana Schwartz, CEO of the River District Association received certification as a Historic Real Estate Development Finance Professional (HREDFP) from Grow America (formerly National Development Council). HREDFP Certification is a professional credential given to individuals who successfully complete Grow America’s intensive historic real estate development finance training series. The training provides professionals working in the field of historic preservation and economic, housing and community development with essential skills and knowledge in historic real estate development finance, including problem solving and deal structuring.

The two course HREDFP Certification Program courses are five days in length and conclude with an exam. Upon successful completion of both courses, the candidate is awarded HREDFP Certification. 

Schwartz will utilize this certification in her work at the River District Association along with previously earned credentials, such as Main Street America Revitalization Professional (MSARP) and the Duke University Nonprofit Management and Leadership certifications.

“I am thrilled to not only work alongside our property developers and owners in the district, but to be able to understand the minute details of how to make projects come together.  Real estate finance is an interesting field, and historic real estate finance is a unique skill in the field.  I look forward to putting this knowledge to work in the continued revitalization of historic districts” said Schwartz of the certification.

Grow America’s work focuses on HOMES, JOBS and COMMUNITY. Founded as a national nonprofit in 1969, Grow America has worked for 50 years at fulfilling its mission to increase the flow of capital for investment in low-income communities. Grow America directs capital to support the preservation and creation of affordable housing, the creation of jobs through training and small business lending and the promotion of livable communities through investment in social infrastructure. Grow America’s products and services are deployed for the benefit of our municipal and nonprofit partners in both urban and rural low-income communities.

Grow America has provided training to over 75,000 professionals working in the fields of economic and housing development. Participants come from diverse backgrounds including city and state governments, public agencies, community-based organizations, professional organizations, and banks.


Grow America is headquartered in New York City with offices in, Cleveland, OH and Dallas, TX. For more information about Grow America, please visit:

The River District Association was organized in 1999 as the Downtown Danville Association. In May 2015, the organization was renamed the River District Association to complement the City’s River District brand and is an accredited Virginia and National Main Street Community. More information about the River District Association can be found at

River District Dollars Patron Program

Dear Danville businesses who love to appreciate their employees!

This is a great opportunity to purchase River District Dollars for employee appreciation this holiday season.

If you register as a "Patron" you can purchase gift cards without the e-delivery fee. This is great for employees AND for River District businesses! (RDA does not receive any fund from these sales, it's all for the businesses!)

X-S Alterations Apprentice Program


  • Paid training opportunity. 
  • Applicants must be able to sew & have previous experience as seamstress &/or tailor. 
  • Program completion leads to in-store &/or take-home contract work. 

Apprentice Training Program 

at X-S Fashion Design and Alterations on Main St. in Danville, VA 

Earn $240 during a 4-day program with a successful and experienced seamstress at a local clothing design and repair business here in Danville, Virginia. 

We are looking for candidates with limited (or years) of sewing experience to participate in a 20-hour program set up through the RDA for X-S Alterations. The applicants must show some tailoring/sewing experience and the social skills necessary to work on clothing design and repair. The students will be instructed one-on-one by a professional seamstress and learning how to work on industrial straight-stitch machines. 

Please contact us to schedule an interview – Nuel West / 434-250-1062 / 

Classes will be held during four 5-Hour Saturday sessions in Nov/Dec/Jan 

Be prepared to provide a history of your sewing capabilities and experience as well as samples (&/or photos) of previous clothing articles worked on. During the interview, we will be evaluating the background, personality and samples provided to choose 5 suitable candidates for the ‘Apprentice Program’. 

You will receive a Program Certificate and a $240 check upon completion of the 20-hour training period. Our hope is to find capable individuals who can perform quality ‘contract’ work to help us provide timely services to our growing customer base. 

River District Association announces RDA 2024 Dream Launch Bootcamp

Now Open for Registration

$100K available in area pitch competitions open to local entrepreneurs that complete the Dream Launch Bootcamp

DANVILLE VA – The River District Association (RDA) is excited to announce that registration has opened for the sixth cohort of the River District Association Dream Launch Bootcamp. Since the start of the program in 2019, nearly 600 individuals have registered for the Bootcamp classes. Additionally, 209 Dream Launch Bootcamp Certificates have been earned by individuals completing all 6 classes.

The RDA Dream Launch Bootcamp is for anyone who wishes to learn more about opening, owning, and operating a business in the Dan River Region; the Bootcamp is also open to current businesses that would like to expand as well as those that would like to audit the courses to prepare for potentially opening a business in the future. There is no cost to participate in the Bootcamp. Classes will be held via Zoom beginning in mid-January with one class in-person in Danville.

Entrepreneurs and new or existing businesses who complete all six Bootcamp sessions and plan to open or expand a brick-and-mortar location in the Downtown River District may apply to compete in the RDA IGNITE Business Pitch Competition (Formerly the RDA Dream Launch Pitch Competition) for awards and incentives totaling $50,000. Additionally, RDA Dream Launch Bootcamp participants who wish to open a business outside of the River District are eligible to compete in the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce Rev Up Pitch.  Rev Up will have $50,000 available in awards and incentives. Lastly, individuals who have completed all six Bootcamp sessions in years past and have a Certificate of Completion are also eligible to apply for the Ignite Business Pitch or Rev Up Pitch, without needing to retake the Bootcamp classes.

This year, RDA will again offer an additional educational resource for food related businesses in the region.  The Food and Beverage Workshop will be optional for all Dream Launch Bootcamp participants but required for those wishing to pitch specifically to open a food and beverage business.  Panelists from Virginia ABC, Health Dept, and Planning and Zoning will be on-hand to provide information needed for business owners in this industry.  Local entrepreneurs with an interest in learning more about opening a food and beverage business are also welcome to attend; this workshop is free but requires separate registration.

"We are thrilled to be moving into the sixth year of the program, and it cannot be stressed enough how grateful we are to all of the partners that have been involved with the program all these years,” said Diana Schwartz, CEO of the River District Association. "It takes collaboration to make programs like this happen.  Nearly 500 people have now taken classes through the Dream Launch Bootcamp in our region, positioning many people in our community to open their own business and create their own wealth-building opportunities".

Registration for the 2024 RDA Dream Launch program is now open at and can also be found at or on the RDA social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn)

If you’d like to know more, you can register to attend an information session being held on December 12th, from 6pm-7pm.  Sign up at:

Funding for the RDA Dream Launch Bootcamp, IGNITE Business Pitch and Rev Up Danville Pittsylvania Pitch is made possible by the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County.


The River District Association was organized in 1999 as the Downtown Danville Association. In May 2015, the organization was renamed the River District Association to complement the city’s River District brand and is an accredited Virginia and National Main Street Community. The office is currently located at 208 N Union Street, Danville VA.

The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce accelerates business growth by connecting its members to dynamic resources and networks. The Chamber’s number one goal is to help area businesses of all sizes to grow and prosper.