Start-up Grant Amount Increased to $53,000
WAYNESBORO – After an intensive eight-week business planning program, eight budding entrepreneurs have been selected to compete for a total of $53,000 in start-up grants. “Pitch Night” is an opportunity for these business owners to present their business idea or expansion plan to an independent panel of judges in the hopes of receiving funds to assist in the start-up or expansion of their business in downtown Waynesboro.
Grow Waynesboro is the City of Waynesboro’s initiative to assist small businesses with start-up and growth resources. Grow Waynesboro Main & Wayne (GWMW) is a grant funded program focused on creating or expanding businesses in the downtown area, culminating with Pitch Night, an opportunity for business owners to compete for grant funds to assist in the start-up of a new business.
In December, prospective new business owners were invited to submit start-up proposals through the City’s Grow Waynesboro website. Over 50 entrepreneurs submitted start-up concepts. Of those, 30 elected to participate in a free eight-week business planning course taught by the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund. During class time, participants heard from local experts, honed their business plans, and practiced giving their pitch. In addition to the basic business plan classes, the Small Business Development Center provided resources to existing businesses looking to expand, and presentation/pitch tips to all interested participants. Businesses meeting the GWMW criteria of opening a business in the downtown area by September 30, 2023, were invited to submit their business plans to local judges for consideration to compete for grant funds. Using ten key business ready factors as a guide, judges reviewed the plans and have named the following eight finalists (in no particular order): Valley Fun Zone, The Glitter Bee, Boutique in the Boro, adorn boutique, Crack O’ Dawn Bakery and Bistro, Band of Barbers Academy, Revival Décor + Design, and Between the Margins.
At Pitch Night, these eight finalists will present their concepts to both judges and the public, with final grant awards announced to the winning participants that night. The event will be held in the Shenandoah Valley Art Center’s new expanded space at 416 West Main Street.
“We were very impressed with the caliber of business ideas and plans,” says Greg Hitchin, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Waynesboro. “The passion and dedication demonstrated by these individuals to participate in class and develop their business plans has been outstanding.”
The Grow Waynesboro Main & Wayne program has been made possible by a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development, with additional funding from the City, Economic Development Authority, and local investors.
Due to the additional support of our local investors, Atlantic Union Bank, First Bank and Trust, F&M Bank, and Lumos, the total available grant fund has increased from $48,000 to $53,000! “We are so grateful for the outstanding support, partnership, and investment from these local companies,” says Hitchin, “we also appreciate Fishburne Military School for providing the vital classroom space needed for the program.”
Pitch Night is scheduled for April 17, 2023 beginning at 6pm and is open to the public. The event is free, but registration is requested at: GrowWaynesboroPitchNight2023.eventbrite.com
For all interested in attending, the event will be an opportunity to network with local entrepreneurs, celebrate and support new local businesses, and to hear detailed pitches from those entrepreneurs looking to make the case that their start-up initiative is the most deserving of local grant support. In addition to networking opportunities, light hors d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided with beer and wine available for purchase. The winners of this year’s Grow Waynesboro Main & Wayne grant competition will be announced at the conclusion of the evening.
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