Development Ready Webinar Series (Part 3): Supporting Small Business Development

What does it mean to be a “Development Ready” community? The final webinar of our three-part series helped localities begin to answer that thought-provoking question. Guest speakers Sandy Ratliff, Vice President of Community Innovation at Virginia Community Capital, and Cathy Lowe, Executive Director at the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator, walked participants through tips and resources to further build local economies with small businesses and entrepreneurship. Here are five (5) major takeaways from our final webinar, which was recorded:

1. Accessing Capital via Virginia Community Capital (VCC) Programs (See presentation slides for additional information):

  • Lending Programs (Loan Size = $150,000 – $9,000,000) to support small businesses such as debt refinancing, equipment purchases, working capital, tenant improvements, business/franchise acquisition, and owner-occupied commercial real estate purchase
  • Special Loan Programs such as Grocery/Food Access; Solar/Energy; and Economic Equity for Women and/or Minority Owned Businesses
  • Real Estate Lending for affordable housing, multi and single-family investment properties, and commercial real estate

2. Starting a small business? Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating funding options:

  • How much do I need?
  • What will the money be used for?
  • What are the risks and benefits?
  • How much personal risk can I tolerate?

3. Tips on working with your Local Governments:

  • Does the municipality have a Main Street organization?
  • What are the local Government Regulations/Ordinances?
  • Spend time reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, streets, and other infrastructure
  • Build partnerships with your local Government Departments
  • Seek a partnership with International Development Associations (IDAs) and County Government

4. Preparation is the key! Here are some technical support tools & information to consider:

  • Business Licenses Requirements
  • Utilities – Requirements and How to Contact
  • Taxes Required and How to Register
  • Professional and Occupation License, if needed
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and/or SCORE Contacts for help
  • Funding Sources – Local, Regional, State, and Federal listing

5. How can you support small businesses:

  • Make business services and resources more accessible
  • Provide on-site business consulting
  • Help small businesses raise money
  • Help small businesses win government contracts
  • Create an environment that is business friendly
  • Consider business workshops and/or competitions to encourage new business starts and expansions

To learn more and hear Sandy and Cathy expand on all these ideas, click here to check out the webinar recording and/or the presentation slide deck! And if you want to know more about Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) check out our upcoming webinar “How CDFIs Close the Wealth Gap through Supporting Small Businesses” on October 27.