The Community Business Launch (CBL) is a place-based entrepreneurial development strategy that fills a critical mass of vacant storefronts with expansion or start-up ventures. Local CBL programs train entrepreneurs, creatives, and small business owners about business planning practices, culminating in a group of finalists pitching their ideas to a panel of judges, with winners receiving grant funding and support services from the community to kick-start their new venture. While only a limited number of entrepreneurs may win the business competitions, the CBL gives rise to many budding entrepreneurs that have been prepared through the program to create or expand successful businesses.
A CBL program generates excitement while educating the community and leveraging other financial and in-kind resources to prepare multiple entrepreneurs to operate successful businesses, whether they win or lose the pitch competition. Additionally, many CBL grantees replicate the CBL strategy repeatedly without resources from the Virginia DHCD to amplify job and business creation. When preceded by thorough market analysis and relentless outreach, followed by ongoing business retention efforts, a CBL program serves as a key building block in a coordinated, comprehensive, and sustainable entrepreneurial eco-system of community-based entrepreneurs and small businesses at all stages of life.
The FY2022 CBL grant application deadline has been extended to July 16, 2021.
Local governments (city, county or town), local or regional economic or industrial development authorities, or regional or local economic and community development organizations may apply for CBL funds.