While caught up in the details of drafting board by-laws, choosing downtown bench designs, training volunteers or coordinating downtown merchant coffee hours, it is easy for Main Street board and committee members and staff to forget that the primary goal of the Main Street organization is the economic redevelopment and revitalization of the local historic commercial district.
That probably won’t be a problem for the folks at Believe in Bristol (BiB). BiB recently opened a new office/Downtown Entrepreneur’s Ideaspace. The ideaspace will provide downtown entrepreneurs access to technology, meeting space and training to help them establish and grow new businesses downtown. To celebrate the opening of the ideaspace, BiB provided a free entrepreneur basics workshop (taught by People, Inc.) and a mobile marketing workshop (taught by the Virginia Deptartment of Business Assistance). Believe in Bristol’s new small business resource center was funded, in part, by a $20,000 Virginia Enterprise Initiative (VEI) Innovation Grant. Last year’s Innovation Grants also funded downtown business development initiatives in the Main Street communities of Staunton (including an innovative hours exchange program) and Waynesboro (which is developing the Waynesboro Innovative Student Entrepreneur Competition, which will help fill empty storefronts along Main Street). VEI Innovation Grant applications will be accepted in January 2013.