Danville’s River District Association Offers Creative Boost to Existing Businesses through New Support Program

Our guest blogger, Kirsten Halverson Aherron, serves as the Communications and Events Manager for the River District Association (RDA) in Danville, Virginia, a welcoming and lively place for all. She’s incredibly passionate about helping people feel connected to and proud of where they live, especially when it comes to Danville’s River District where she enjoys helping the local Main Street program attract and retain businesses, residents and visitors while promoting a high quality of life.

The River District Association (RDA) has launched a new program specifically designed to help existing River District businesses think creatively about projects or improvements that could boost their business to the next level. 

“We are grateful to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Virginia Main Street (VMS) and the City of Danville for their support in helping us retain, grow and expand our existing businesses in the River District. We are always excited to welcome new business into the district, but it is crucial to support businesses that are already invested here. Business retention is one of the most important things we can do at RDA, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to do it.” – Diana Schwartz, Executive Director, RDA

RDA GET Boosted (Growth, Expansion, Training) is a three-part, business assistance program that offers space and opportunity for business owners to get creative, access expert technical advice and submit for grant funding to make their creative ideas a reality.

Phase One: Get Creative

This phase will consist of a two-hour, professionally facilitated group ideation session. Participating businesses will be guided to brainstorm individually and in groups to think creatively about solutions to challenges they face. This gathering is designed to think outside the box, and also lean on each other to answer the question:

If I had / could implement ________ then my business would be able to ________.

Phase Two: Make a Plan

Here, we’ll ask participating businesses to submit a brief explanation of their idea generated at the Get Creative session. RDA will work one-on-one with businesses to turn their creativity into a plan. If businesses already have a plan but need a little financial boost to make it happen, they can apply for a grant to implement their idea.

Phase Three: Make It Happen

In the final phase, we’ll invite participating businesses to submit a grant application to help implement and fund their creative idea. Grant awards may be up to $5,000 depending on the projects submitted and funds available. This grant money can be used to hire a subject matter expert to move the idea forward or to pay for a project.

“Last year was a very challenging year for all of our businesses in the River District and throughout the region. This program will give our small businesses the opportunity to think outside the box and the resources necessary to develop and implement a product or service that will have a positive impact on their business.”

Kelvin Perry, Project Manager, City of Danville Office of Economic Development