Recently, Governor Northam announced that the town of Blackstone and city of Buena Vista were awarded Community Business Launch (CBL) grants, totaling $90,000, to conduct business plan competitions and offer training to entrepreneurs that aligns with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in Virginia’s downtown commercial districts.
Administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the CBL program is a place-based entrepreneurial development initiative that helps fill vacant storefronts with community-based expansion or startup ventures. Local CBL programs train entrepreneurs, creatives and small business owners on business planning practices, culminating with an opportunity for finalists to compete for grant funding and support services from the community to kick-start their new venture.
“This public health crisis has underscored the value of programs like CBL that prepare entrepreneurs for the rigors of operating in a fast-changing business environment. As we respond to the economic devastation this virus has caused and look ahead toward a post-pandemic future, Virginia will continue to use every resource available to support the small businesses that are the heart of our downtown commercial districts and the bedrock of our economy.” – Governor Ralph Northam
Since 2014, $1.53 million in CBL funds have been awarded to 24 communities serving more than 450 participating entrepreneurs across Virginia. In total, the CBL has garnered more than $2.25 million in private investment, with over 230 new full-time jobs created and at least 100 jobs retained.
“CBL supports communities in identifying businesses needed in their downtown districts and supporting those businesses beyond the grand opening. By combining training with a business plan competition, we are creating and nurturing strong local entrepreneurial ecosystems that will support current and future small business growth.” – Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball
The following projects will be awarded CBL funds:
Blackstone Business Launch
The town of Blackstone and Downtown Blackstone, Inc. were awarded $45,000 to host an eight-week business competition to diversify retail businesses and address vacancies created during the pandemic in the downtown district, potentially focusing on food-based businesses. Upon completion, Blackstone will produce or expand four businesses and create at least 10 jobs.
Buena Vista Community Business Launch
The city of Buena Vista was awarded $45,000 to host a 10-week business competition focused on its downtown. Buena Vista is currently using CDBG funds to develop an assessment of local assets and market potential for specific downtown retail businesses. The city sees hospitality, small-scale manufacturing, and web-based retail as part of the new business sector in the downtown district. Upon completion, Buena Vista will create or expand three businesses and create at least five jobs.
Click here to view the full press release!