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December Newsletter

December is National Write a Business Plan Month! There is no better way to end the year than by crafting or perfecting your business plan. Several local business plan competitions have come to a close and the winners have been announced. Find out what new businesses are opening in the region, and possibly even in your community.
Business Plan Competitions
Mount Rogers Business Challenge Announces Winners
The Blue Ridge Crossroads Small Business Development Center, the Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority, and Grayson County are pleased to announce the winners of the Mount Rogers Business Challenge.

First Place – Steve Marshall with Paddlleyax Kayaks, a full service retail location selling Vibe kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and paddling accessories, located in Fries, VA.

Second Place – Dana Harrington with Harrington Country Retreat, a vacation rental home on a working farm located in Comers Rock Community of Grayson County.

Third Place – Laura George & Katherine Kennedy with Oracle Campground, a recreational campground including tent sites, cabins, a central pavilion, and bathhouse, located in Independence, VA.

Fourth Place – Kit Marshal with River Peek Cottage, a vacation rental home located in Fries, VA. 

Check out The Declaration article >>

Learn more about the competition >>
Marion Completes Ninth Round of "Pop Up Marion" Small Business Boot Camp
The Town of Marion graduated seven entrepreneurs from their ninth round of the "Pop Up Marion" Small Business Boot Camp. "Pop Up Marion" participants received training in all aspects of business and had the opportunity to win $5,000 in startup grant funds and an additional $15,000 in low interest loan funds. Graduating participants include:
Dave Delp, owner of Delp Signs
Ashley Privett
Larry, Dena, and Heather Bayes
Chris Slemp

Read the Press Release >>
Smyth County Business Boot Camp Announces Winners
The Chamber of Commerce of Smyth County announced the top competitors of the Smyth County Business Boot Camp. The competition awarded entrepreneurial grants to four businesses, one each in the towns of Chilhowie, Saltville, Marion, and one located in the county.

                 Julius & Kayla Winebarger                                               George & Angela Robbins
                  Downtown Outfitters, Marion                                              Robbins Small Engine, Chilhowie

                Seth & Courtney Umbarger                                          
Barry Salewsky & Jackie Butler
          Laurel Springs Farm , Smyth County                                                  New Horizons, Saltville            


Read the Press Release >>
Regional News
Rally SWVA Tour
On December 1 and December 3, 2015, Rally SWVA communities, Cleveland, Damascus and Dungannon, participated in a Rally tour. The tour is the final phase of the Rally SWVA community leadership development program. The two-day trip consisted of visiting the three Rally communities, learning about their history, touring community assets, and discussing downtown revitalization plans. While on the tour, the communities formed a regional team, working to improve the Southwest Virginia region, one community at a time.


'Round The Mountain is Renewing Memberships for 2016
'Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network (RTM), is renewing memberships for 2016 and invites new members to join. Individual artisans, galleries, shops or craft related businesses, and farms or agritourism businesses are invited to become part of the RTM growing network. As a member of RTM, you will join a family of like-minded artisan entrepreneurs and handcraft appreciators in Southwest Virginia. Become a member today and enjoy the many benefits and opportunities available to RTM members.

Learn more >>
Dominion Foundation Supports Environmental Education Program
On November 10, 2015 at Heartwood, Greg Edwards & Jeshan Fernando, External Affairs for Dominion Virginia, presented the Friends of Southwest Virginia with a $25,000 grant. The grant will support a project to assemble model curricular and outreach programming for an environmental and entrepreneurship center along the Clinch River, advancing a key goal of the Clinch River Valley Initiative.

Read the Press Release >>


December is Write a Business Plan Month
There is no better time to start business planning than during Write a Business Plan month. There are plenty of resources available in the region to help aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses with business plan assistance. If you are thinking of starting a new business or need to revisit your current business plan for your existing business, visit to learn more about the resources available in the region.
Governor's Announcement
Southwest Virginia Receives Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Planning Grant
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that a total of $56,000 in planning grants will be given to various projects from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund. The grants have been awarded to the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission (PDC), City of Roanoke, and Nelson County. The LENOWISCO PDC is planning to use the grant funding to develop a regional agricultural strategic plan.

Read the official announcement >>
Governor McAuliffe Announces Administration Appointments
On December 11, 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced additional appointments to his Administration that will be focused on building a new Virginia economy and creating more jobs across the state. Among those appointed are Cathy Lowe of Abingdon and John Sherrard Holland in Southwest Virginia.

Read the official announcement >>
Virginia Community Business Launch Grants Announced
Southwest Virginia among recipients

On November 17, 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the seven communities to receive $420,000 in Virginia Community Business Launch grants. The towns of Marion, Pulaski, Vinton and Strasburg and the cities of Lynchburg, Petersburg and Martinsville will receive $60,000 each for entrepreneurship development. CBL is designed to assist communities in defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy.

Read the official announcement >>
Business Highlight
Real McCoy Cabins
On November 6, 2015, Real McCoy Cabins in Pocahontas celebrated the grand opening of their first three cabin rentals. Located on Southwest Virginia's Original Pocahontas Spearhead Trail system and minutes away from the Hatfield McCoy Trails, Real McCoy Cabins are the first luxury cabin rentals in Tazewell County. An additional three cabins will be completed by March 1, 2016. Construction of a laundry room, on-site store, office and lodge combination will begin at the beginning of the year. Owners, Donald and Ginger Cates, have a goal to build up to 15 cabins over the next few years to serve trail riders.
For more information about the cabins or to make reservations, visit Be sure to check out their online store as well.

Read the Bluefield Daily Telegraph article >>
Like them on Facebook >>
Upcoming Events
People Incorporated Training Workshops
People Incorporated will be offering a series of free, public training in Abingdon.
Currently scheduled workshops:
Customer Service Workshop - February 10, 2016, 10AM - Noon
Business Basics - February 25, 2016, 10AM - Noon
EBay & Etsy Commerce - March 23, 2016, 9AM - 11 AM

Register here or call 276.619.2215 for more information.

Youth Entrepreneurship Workshops
People Incorporated is partnering with Workforce Development to explore entrepreneurship
and customer service with at-risk youth.
Three workshops are scheduled in December:
December 22, 2015 - Abingdon
December 28, 2015 - Galax
December 30, 2015 - Chilhowie
For more information on the workshops, contact Natasha Snyder at
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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