Main Street Communities Partnering for Entrepreneur Development

This past spring, DHCD’s Virginia Enterprise Initiative awarded six innovation grants to help develop new and innovative techniques for cultivating and assisting micro-entrepreneurs. Three of the awardees (Bristol, Staunton and Waynesboro) are specifically targeting micro-entrepreneur development in their local Main Street districts.

Staunton Creative Community Fund, in Staunton, will continue to build off of its strong record of innovative entrepreneur development initiatives like Ignite Staunton and “Confessions of an Entrepreneur” by developing a local Hours Exchange Program, a networked community kitchen incubator and an online platform for sharing local Kickstarter projects.

Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) in Charlottesville will offer two 14-week entrepreneur development classes and will begin offering micro-financing to training graduates who want to start or expand their businesses.

United Virginia is expanding its micro-entrepreneur development services to southern Virginia. United Virginia will offer four 10-week entrepreneur development classes and will coordinate micro-financing for new or expanding businesses in southern Virginia.

Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) and its affiliate Business Seed Capital, Inc. (BSCI), working in the Roanoke region, is going to develop Virginia’s first solidarity lending program based on the Grameen Bank model. If successful, TAP and BSCI hope to establish the Virginia Chapter of Grameen America.

Believe in Bristol (BIB), Bristol’s Main Street organization, is going to develop and coordinate a micro-entrepreneur training and technical assistance program to encourage new businesses to fill up empty store fronts in Bristol’s Main Street district. The entrepreneur development program will be housed in BIB’s new offices.

The City of Waynesboro will work with nearby colleges and universities to develop a business competition program for new business graduates interested in starting a business in an empty store front in Waynesboro’s Main Street district. In addition to training and assistance in business start-up and micro-financing, the Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. will help the three winners of the competition work with downtown landlords to find available rental space for their new businesses.