$51,000 will help four new Waynesboro businesses open in 2017.
Grow Waynesboro is pleased to announce the final grant awards for four new local businesses, helping them to create jobs and build a culture of entrepreneurship in Waynesboro. This marks the second year of the Grow Waynesboro initiative, which was made possible by a generous Community Business Launch Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
The announcement of winners follows months of searching and outreach to identify the most exciting and innovative new business start-ups in Waynesboro. Twenty-eight grant applications were received with new business ideas from local entrepreneurs. Applicants then took part in an eight-week business planning class walking them through the process of developing their concepts and a business plan. The business plans were then reviewed by a panel of judges and narrowed down to a group of eight finalists. Last night, at a public Pitch Night event at Basic City Beer Co., the finalists stood before judges, peers, and community residents in order to “pitch” their business plans.
With this year’s impressive level of organization and planning from the applicants, the judges had no easy task narrowing the finalists and ultimately arriving at four grant recipients. Judges chose the final winners based on a diversity of criteria, including the start-ups’ job creation, their business viability and readiness, as well as their positive impacts on downtown Waynesboro.
“Job creation and economic growth were two key factors in our decision-making process,” says Jim Hyson, a member of Waynesboro’s EDA who once again served on the judging panel, “and if a business intended to occupy a downtown storefront, that made the business plan all the more appealing.”
The businesses chosen to receive the 2017 Grow Waynesboro grant awards are:
- The Honey Exchange, awarded $18,000, Jeff Hersh plans to take a three-pronged approach to nurturing and sustaining honey bee populations all the while producing a marketable product for consumers. The plan features a bee sharing program; extraction, processing and distribution services.
- Blue Oregano, awarded $16,000, will provide full service catering, classes and pop-up dinners in their downtown space. Chef Caitie Maharg, who you may recognize from her three appearances on the Food Network including a winning episode of Guys Grocery Games, will heavily feature local ingredients in her cooking.
- Chubina Boo Boutique, awarded $9,000, will feature a full retail shop as well as custom items which will allow customers to pick their own design and fabric patterns. Ashley Snipes’ inspiration comes from her daughters and her motivation to empower them. The boutique will offer customized sizes and shapes to match everyone’s needs.
- Memories by Valerie, awarded $8,000, is a professional portrait studio, offering photos for newborns, families, individuals, etc. Valerie Woolford has been operating a home-based studio out of Crimora and will be using the grant funds to expand into a Waynesboro storefront.
Regardless of whether a business received grant assistance at Pitch Night, Grow Waynesboro intends to keep in contact with all of the applicants, guiding them toward training, mentorship, and other forms of small business support.