LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) — On Tuesday, Go Virginia Region 2 awarded $240,192 to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance to stand up the center for entrepreneurship, according to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.
The Center for Entrepreneurship (C.Entr) is a new program that will bring regional entrepreneurial support under one roof at the Alliance’s facility at 300 Lucado Place in Downtown Lynchburg, the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance said.
The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance also said in addition to Go Virginia Region 2 funds, $187,035 of matching funds have been provided by participating localities: Amherst, Bedford, and Campbell Counties, the City of Lynchburg, and the Towns of Altavista, Amherst, and Appomattox.
“This is a great opportunity to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region. Bringing a lot of expertise and access to one centralized resource,” said Stephanie Keener, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. Stephanie is expanding her role and will continue to serve as the leader of the Small Business Development Center - Lynchburg Region (SBDC), according to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.
Entrepreneurs at the future Center for Entrepreneurship will benefit from a physical connection between the Small Business Development Center – Lynchburg Region, for free and confidential advising and coaching programs, as well as the resources of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization, the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance said.
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“The Center for Entrepreneurship will be a great addition to the programs and services provided at 300 Lucado Place by both the Alliance and the SBDC - Lynchburg Region,” said Megan Lucas, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. “By pouring into our region’s talented entrepreneurs, and giving them the tools they need, we project that this new program will create 42 new jobs and $400,000 of new capital investments for the Lynchburg region over the next several years.”
The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance said our region needs entrepreneurial support:
They said the need for a program that supports entrepreneurial growth and development in the Lynchburg region has been identified and prioritized in multiple economic development plans from a variety of regional organizations over the past several years. The proposal from the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance is the culmination of recommendations from all of these plans which include:
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According to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, these plans identified several common themes or needs for the region:
Introducing the Center for Entrepreneurship according to the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance:
The new Center for Entrepreneurship will address all of these needs in one convenient place. Approximately 3,000 square feet of space within the Alliance’s facility will be redesigned and dedicated to entrepreneurs - creating the physical space needed to help build community. The Center for Entrepreneurship will support the development and hosting of regional business development events each year as well as training events focused on the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by entrepreneurs to succeed.
The project will also support the development of a support services network specific to entrepreneurs and will make a portfolio of these services available to regional entrepreneurs. A new mentorship program is already taking shape and the Alliance is reaching out to qualified leaders in the community to become mentors.
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The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance said if you are interested in becoming a mentor, please fill out the form here. The Center for Entrepreneurship will also assist entrepreneurs in gaining access to capital needed to get their ideas off the ground and turn them from ideas into financially stable businesses. Increased access to capital is a top priority, and one of the most often mentioned needs for the region for entrepreneurs and startups. The Alliance has already taken one step toward filling this funding gap with the recent creation of the 140 Fund in February of 2023.
The 140 Fund is currently raising money from the community which will eventually become a revolving loan fund. The fund, operated by the Center for Entrepreneurship and managed by the Alliance’s foundation, will grant low-interest loans to applicants starting a business or in developing a business strategy. The Alliance hopes to raise $140,000 this year before opening the fund to the first applicants. If you would like to learn more about the 140 Fund or to give, click here.
The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance provides the next steps:
With funding now secured, the Alliance will begin planning and upgrading the 3,000 square feet of space inside the Alliance building with plans for the Center for Entrepreneurship to open for business by the end of 2023. The upgrades will create a modern training space for entrepreneurs including workstations, meeting spaces with mentors, computers, and other tools.
“The Center for Entrepreneurship will fill a much-needed gap in our region for centralized entrepreneurial support,” said Luke Towles, Senior Vice President, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and chair of the new Center for Entrepreneurship’s advisory board. “The Center has been part of the region’s strategic plans for several years. I look forward to serving on the Center’s advisory board and launching this program at the Alliance.”
To learn more about the C.Entr and for future updates, click here.
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About the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance:
The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance is the region’s oldest and largest business and professional association – serving the Lynchburg region since 1883. As a combined chamber of commerce and economic development organization, the Alliance serves as the united voice for the Lynchburg region’s business community – connecting creativity and commerce.
For over 800 businesses and organizations and their employees, their mission is to lead regional economic development through: Generating Jobs & Investment; Promoting the Region’s Brand and Image Globally; Cultivating Talent, and Enhancing the Business Climate.
To learn more about the chamber of commerce side of the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, visit here.
To learn more about their economic development work, visit here.
The GO Virginia State Board announced its approval of two new Region 2 projects aimed at growing the regional economy. Region 2 consists of the cities of Covington, Lynchburg, Radford, Roanoke, and Salem; and the counties of Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Roanoke.
Bedford Regional Metal Workforce Retention Center (Town of Bedford Economic Development Authority):
According to Go Virginia, the Bedford Regional Metal Workforce Retention Center project will repurpose a 60,000-square-foot former steel shot foundry into a Central and Southwest Virginia regional workforce development center focused on metal fabrication skills training. The funding will be used to procure a consultant team to develop a master plan strategy for how to connect metal-working businesses that need targeted skills training with educators in metal fabrication skills. This project will further the work of a previous GO Virginia award to Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) to create a Regional Career and Technical Education Academy. The GO Virginia board approved a total of $99,900 in state funds for the project, which is leveraging $201,000 in non-state sources.
“Economic development staff and metal companies consistently cite difficulties in retaining employees and attracting skilled workers from the local labor pool, both indicators of the need for additional regional training resources,” said Jonathan Buttram, chairman of the Town of Bedford Economic Development Authority. “This project will remove the burden from employers to provide industry-specific training and centralize the need for that training into a dedicated facility, giving people hands-on experience with specific machines and applications.”
Career Acceleration Program (Beacon of Hope):
Go Virginia said the Career Acceleration Program will work to increase the career capacity of the region by retaining young workers graduating high school. Project goals also include reconnecting with individuals who have paused their educational journeys and engaging with two-generation households, where parent and children are prime-age workers. The project will also create a long-term career case management system that allows workers to continuously learn and prepare for new job opportunities. The project builds on a previous GO Virginia planning grant, which helped Beacon of Hope develop a playbook for implementing Future Centers – resource hubs in schools that assist students with college and career preparation – across Region 2. The GO Virginia board approved a total of $540,000 in state funds for the project, which is leveraging $585,000 in non-state sources.
“Lynchburg Beacon of Hope combines a grassroots effort with regional partnerships, strong K-12 programming, and relationships with the three public school systems and five regionally accredited colleges and universities in the Lynchburg region,” said Laura Hamilton, executive director of Lynchburg Beacon of Hope. “This GO Virginia implementation grant will broaden our scope of impact, providing more data to broaden our reach here in Region 2 and as a demonstration program for communities nationally. Lynchburg Beacon of Hope is currently working alongside dozens of Region 2 employers through our Future Centers, experiential programs, and career access programming to create a pipeline of well-prepared, well-credentialed young people interested in keeping and growing their talents here in Central Virginia.”