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September Newsletter

Regional Business Plan Competitions
Business plan competitions are occurring all across the region in 2015. Beginning in 2012, the Southwest Virginia region has been hosting competitions to spur entrepreneurial activity and provide opportunities for new ventures and existing businesses. Over the last three years, the region has held 19 competitions with 165 program graduates and has awarded $183,200 to various Southwest Virginia small businesses. This fall, five business plan competitions will be held in the Mount Roger's Planning District Commission.
What will 2016 bring to Southwest Virginia?

People Incorporated Financial Services announces the winners of the Lee & Scott County Entrepreneur Challenge at the Pioneer Center – top prize of $5,000 was awarded to Jeremiah Tomlinson, owner of Redemption Relics, and second prize to Danielle White, owner of Born Free Farm in Jonesville, VA.
Read the Press Release >>

The Blue Ridge Crossroads Small Business Development Center, the Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority, and Grayson County are pleased to announce an entrepreneurial contest coming in the Fall of 2015. 

Visit website >>

In order to highlight the opportunities for business startups in Smyth County, Va, the Chamber of Commerce of Smyth County is hosting the first Smyth County Small Business Boot Camp. The Smyth County Chamber has partnered with Mount Rogers PDC, Virginia Tourism, and the local towns and county to offer a competitive process for emerging entrepreneurs and communities working to increase their business bases.

Learn more >>

To inspire economic development and job creation in Wytheville, Downtown Wytheville, Inc., the Southwest Regional Enterprise Center, and the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County are proud to announce the first annual Startup Wythe In - Business Idea Competition.
Participant Presentations, Judging and Winner Announced : September 29, 2015


The Better Business Basics Plus (BBBp) program is being developed by the Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce as a request from the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Virginia Tourism Corporation.  The program will consist of a six week intensive business training course that will culminate with a business plan competition in which participants will be able to compete for grant money and additional prizes worth over $5,000.

Learn more >>

The Town of Marion will host their 9th round of the "Pop Up Marion" Business Boot Camp beginning on November 3, 2015. The five week program is designed for existing business owners and entrepreneurs who have either previously completed a "Pop Up Marion" boot camp or have worked on a business plan to understand the basic concepts of small business.

Learn more >>


The first annual My Southwest Virginia Opportunity Cup will begin September 15, 2015!
Regional News
InnovateHER Challenge
The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at unearthing products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families  through local business competitions that culminate in a live pitch Final Round. During the Finals, up to 10 Finalists will compete for the Top Three cash prizes totaling $70,000 provided by Microsoft.

GO Virginia
On July 28, 2015, Virginia business leaders announced the GO Virginia initiative to promote Growth and Opportunity in each region in the state. Go Virginia is a campaign initiated by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council and the Council on Virginia's Future to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.


Damascus & Dungannon Awarded Community Development Block Grants
On August 18, 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced more than $8.2 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for 12 projects in Virginia. Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program.

Southwest Virginia towns, Damascus and Dungannon were among the recipients of the grants for revitalization efforts. Damascus will receive $659,400 for downtown revitalization. Dungannon will receive $700,000 for economic revitalization and will have 2 years to complete the work. Watch Mayor Horne of Dungannon share their plan during an interview with WCYB.

Read the official announcement from the Governor's Newsroom >>

Community Themes & Strengths Survey
Help improve health in Southwest Virginia by taking this 10 minute Community Themes and Strengths Assessment survey. The survey aims to identify strategic issues and inform the formation of goals and strategies to improve health in the region. Gathering input from community members throughout Southwest Virginia, this survey will be used to develop a strong understanding of community concerns, strengths, assets, and perception of quality of life. The survey covers the localities in the LENOWISCO & Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions, as well as Washington County, Smyth County and City of Bristol. 
Supported by the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, Healthy Appalachia Institute is working with the Virginia Department of Health and regional partners to update the Blueprint for Health Improvement and Health – Enabled Prosperity. Originally published in 2009, the Blueprint has galvanized the region into action, increasing awareness and progress toward improving population health in Southwest Virginia.

Take the Survey
Business Highlight
Adventure Mendota, a family owned paddle sports and tubing business on the North Fork of the Holston River in Mendota, Virginia opened in May of this year. While all new business owners are nervous during their first days of business, Mike and Eva Beaule were especially nervous. Mendota is a remote, rural village in Washington County where the nearest grocery store is 17 miles away and the nearest gas station 11 miles away. “What if no one makes the drive?” was the question on their minds.
Today, they laugh about their cautious expectations as during their first 90 days in business, a number of folks made the drive. They have launched 980 kayaks; and even starting late with tubing in mid-July, they have launched over 1000 tubes. Their initial fleet of 12 kayaks and 36 tubes has grown to 40 kayaks and over 80 tubes.
If asked if it was worth it, Mike and Eva answer “Yes!”  Eva adds further, “we feel a great deal of pride when we tell someone “I am a small business owner.”
Mike and Eva came in 2nd place in the Washington County Business Plan Challenge and look forward to competing in the My SWVA Opportunity Cup.   Like all the other competitors, they will be “in it to win it!”

Don't miss out on your chance to "Float the Fork" this year. Be sure to like them on Facebook and see who is visiting Mendota today!
Upcoming Events
Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo
September 12, 2015 at Heartwood

Welcome to Southwest Virginia Customer Service Training  September 15, 2015 at Wytheville Meeting Center

Aspiring Innkeeper Workshop
September 21-22, 2015 at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa

iPad for Business Workshop
October 1, 2015 at the Crossroads Higher Education Center

SWVA Ag Expo
October 9-10, 2015 at the Russell County Fairgrounds

     Agritourism & The Farm Workshop; October 9, 2015 at the SWVA Ag Expo

Let us share your exciting updates in entrepreneurship with the rest of the region! Contact Robyn Lee at to have news and events added to the newsletter.
Copyright © 2015 Opportunity SWVA, All rights reserved.

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