Community Business Launch Funding Expanded for Fiscal Year 2024

Has your community considered applying for a Community Business Launch (CBL) grant in the past but needed more funding to make a real impact in your commercial district? Well, you’re in luck!

This year, CBL applicants can apply for up to $100,000 to complete a place-based entrepreneurial development strategy to fill a critical mass of vacant storefronts with expansion or start-up ventures. With the increase in funding per project, the program hopes to assist larger urban areas and commercial corridors, in addition to traditional historic districts. A 100% match is required for asks of $75,001-$100,000, with 50% match required for $50,001-$75,000, and 25% for up to $45,000. Additional information on funding amounts and match requirements have been updated and can be viewed in this year’s program design.

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 venture. While only a limited number of entrepreneurs may win funding from 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 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. 

Applications for CBL are now open, and will close May 5 at 5 p.m. A How-to-Apply workshop will be held Monday, March 13 at 11 a.m. for organizations interested in applying. Click here to register! For questions or to discuss a potential CBL project, please contact Jessica Hartness, CBL Program Administrator, at 804-837-6399 or for more information!