The Virginia Community Business Launch program will help secure budding entrepreneurs on the Virginia Middle Peninsula and secure the support they need to be successful, creating jobs and opportunities in the Commonwealth.
Gloucester Main Street business groups – the Gloucester Main Street Association and Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust – are pleased to announce that Virginia’s Middle Peninsula’s Historic Courthouse corridor was named one of three communities in the Commonwealth to receive $100,000 for small business development.
The grant is part of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s first ever Virginia Community Business Launch (CBL), unveiled Dec. 5. Gloucester as well as the cities of Staunton and Hopewell were the first three communities to receive the grant funding and support as part of the CBL pilot program.
“Studies show that a healthy economy downtown helps sustain an entire community,” said Gloucester Main Street Association Executive Director Ashley Gilmartin. “To have Gloucester be part of this pilot program is an honor and will truly help us further the efforts to support small businesses – the very small businesses that help create jobs in our community.”
The pilot CBL program is an initiative of Governor McAuliffe’s new Virginia economy Strategic Plan, falling under the pillars of economic development, entrepreneurship and small business development.
“Small business development is critical for building a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Through this new initiative, we are placing the community at the center of small business development in order to help Virginia entrepreneurs thrive and contribute to our state economy starting in their own backyards.”
The CBL is designed to assist communities in taking a systems approach to defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy.
The program starts with a community’s unique vision for its future and then uses a local business competition to find and foster the entrepreneurs that connect with that vision.
CBL will provide the tools to effectively prepare multiple entrepreneurs to operate successful businesses in a downtown or neighborhood commercial district and allow them to compete for funding to start up their new endeavor.
In Gloucester, a team of local businesses, county government officials and boards and mentors are donating time and discounted services to further help the businesses interested in applying to the contest prepare and refine their business plans.
By mid-January, Gloucester expects to launch details regarding its entire CBL team, how entrepreneurs can apply for the grant funding, and the educational opportunities.
“We’ve taken this great opportunity afforded to Gloucester by the Governor and are building on it,” said Jenny Crittenden, Executive Director of the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust. “The entrepreneurs and our business community will not only benefit from this grant program, but will also get access to top mentors and a prize package that will truly help the winners build a strong foundation for their businesses.”
While only a limited number of entrepreneurs may win the business competitions, CBL will give rise to many budding entrepreneurs that have been prepared, through the CBL initiative, to be successful businesses.
In addition, it will help communities begin to develop a coordinated, comprehensive sustainable environment that identifies, launches and supports community-based entrepreneurs and small business at all levels of development.
“Small business is the backbone of communities around the Commonwealth. They provide jobs, they provide talent, and they end up leading our civic organizations and help our children to pursue their dreams,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Entrepreneurship is a key component of our economic strategy, and we want to foster the development of these individuals and their ideas.”
For more information about the Virginia Community Business Launch, visit www.dhcd.virginia.gov. To learn more about the Gloucester Main Street Association, visit www.gloucestervillage.com or follow the group on Facebook and Instagram.