The Lynchburg Office of Economic Development (LOED) and the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority (LEDA) were recently awarded a grant through Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch Grant program.
Lynchburg is one of only seven localities to receive a $60,000 grant, an investment totaling $420,000 statewide. The program is managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and designed to support Lynchburg's growing community of entrepreneurs. The LEDA grant request includes four programmatic components:
- Launched in Lynchburg - a web portal for local businesses and LEDA stakeholders centered on interactive learning and building connections. Users will be able to connect with potential customers, suppliers, investors, employees and partners. It is also a place where service seekers can learn more about local businesses, freelancers, and independent contractors and the services they offer. The portal will launch in mid-2016.
- Co.Starters - a nationally recognized 9-week program that helps aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs turn business ideas into action. The first Co.Starters cohort in Lynchburg will begin March 8.
- Launched in Lynchburg Business Competition - $40,000 grants available to winners of the first Launched in Lynchburg Business Competition. Businesses must complete the Co.Starters program and open or significantly expand a storefront in the City’s Enterprise Zone 2 to be eligible.
- Service Hours - LEDA will provide a 100% match for donated service hours from Lynchburg businesses that complete the Co.Starters curriculum. LEDA is soliciting donated service hours from a law firm, a marketing agency, an accounting firm, and a web developer.
According to Marjette Upshur, Director of Economic Development, the grant and LEDA’s willingness to provide monetary matches helps solidify Lynchburg’s support for entrepreneurial businesses. “Entrepreneurship and community-based businesses are critical to the economic health of any city,” said Upshur. “A citizen may have a great idea for a business but struggle trying to connect all the pieces that will help them be successful,” said Upshur. “This grant will support our efforts to connect small businesses and startups to service providers, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, building a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in the City of Lynchburg.”
“Entrepreneurism is one of our key strategies for diversifying and growing the economy in all parts of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Maurice Jones. “The Community Business Launch program was a success in its first year, helping to launch or expand more than 14 businesses in three communities across the state. We look forward to more business creation as a result of these investments.”
More information about Co.Starters, including an application for the first cohort, is available at http://info.opportunitylynchburg.com/co.starters-entrepreneur-training. Applications will be accepted through March 1.
Other grant recipients across the state include the Towns of Pulaski, Vinton, Marion and Strasburg and the Cities of Martinsville and Petersburg.