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.
“We have four active constructions projects on our main street, Magnolia Street, and all of them are related to Community Business Launch. It is exciting to see new energy coming to town!” – Tom Roberts, Economic Development Director City of Buena VistaTom Roberts, City of Buena Vista, Planning, Zoning and Community Development
In 2021, four (4) localities across Virginia were awarded funding through the CBL program, and worked tirelessly to encourage entrepreneurship and business opportunity in their communities, all while navigating the changing economic landscape as the country slowly built back from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from their inspiring and unique local efforts, these communities – Blackstone, Buena Vista, Culpeper, and Norton – understood the crucial role the CBL programming could play in uplifting friends and neighbors in the face of adversity, bringing people together to explore new possibilities, and provide immediate assistance to their commercial and cultural centers.
DHCD has released an annual report that further explains the program’s structure, highlights completed and ongoing CBL initiatives, showcases CBL data points and more. Check out the report, here, for more information!
Photo Credit (Top): Fred Ramey, City Manager of Norton
Photo Credit (Bottom): Justin Sarafin, Executive Director for Downtown Blackstone, Inc.