Local entrepreneurs planning to launch a Waynesboro business in 2017 will now be eligible for $51,000 in start-up grants to be awarded by the City’s small business development initiative, Grow Waynesboro. The 2017 Start-Up Competition will educate and fund local entrepreneurs who are launching new businesses, creating jobs and filling storefronts.
The most important requirement for prospective entrepreneurs: They must submit a summary of their business idea by January 17, 2017.
Grow Waynesboro’s 2017 initiative, The Search: Downtown, will be working in the coming weeks to find, inspire, and connect with local entrepreneurs who may be a good match for the program. “Our goal between now and the conclusion of 2016 is to reach as many potential entrepreneurs as possible,” says Courtney Cranor, Assistant Economic Development Director for the City of Waynesboro. “At this stage in the grant award process, we want to encourage as many ideas and submissions as possible. This is the community’s moment to articulate what small businesses it would like to start, grow and support in the coming year.”
All small business ideas will be accepted through the GrowWaynesboro.com portal through January 17th. On January 7th, Grow Waynesboro will offer a preparatory workshop to assist in the application process. Applicants will be selected to proceed to an 8-week business planning class and intensive small business coaching program. During that time, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to develop their business plans, draft marketing campaigns, identify storefront locations, refine cash flow projections, and network with local mentors and business development experts.
“Grow Waynesboro is comprehensive in its approach,” says Greg Hitchin, the City’s Director of Economic Development. “We’re combining top-notch business training with start-up grants to ensure that our 2017 businesses have both the capital and expertise they need to succeed in Waynesboro.”
Once entrepreneurs have successfully completed the business planning course, their final ideas will compete for portions of the $51,000 available to be awarded to 2017 businesses. Cranor reports that a panel of judges will prioritize job creation, filling downtown and surrounding area storefronts, and the ability to successfully launch by September 30, 2017 in their review of the final proposals.
“Our 2017 initiative builds on the successes of our smaller 2016 pilot program,” says Cranor. In 2016, over two dozen small business proposals were submitted and three businesses received funding to open new storefronts and small-manufacturing centers in Waynesboro. “Attracting quality entrepreneurs and funding job-creating businesses for Waynesboro is important in an evolving economic climate,” adds Cranor. “This year’s pool of funding more than doubles the amount available to small businesses in 2016.”
Grow Waynesboro’s 2017 program is made possible with funding from the Community Business Launch (CBL) awards, announced earlier this year by Governor McAuliffe. The state provided a total of $300,000 in grant awards to five localities in the Commonwealth, of which the City of Waynesboro secured $60,000 for its Grow Waynesboro program. The program is administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and managed locally by the Waynesboro Economic Development Authority.