Governor announces $180k in Virginia Community Business Launch awards

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BUCHANAN, Va. (WDBJ7) - UPDATE: The town of Buchanan and Giles County have both landed state funding to help develop new businesses and expand existing ones.

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Governor Ralph Northam announced the Virginia Community Business Launch Awards Wednesday afternoon in Buchanan.

Each community will receive a $45,000 grant, which will provide training for entrepreneurs and fund a business plan competition.

"Our unemployment rate is at 2.8," Northam told reporters after the ceremony, "but there are some distressed areas of Virginia, certainly some of the rural areas of Virginia, and we want to help lift all of them up."

State officials say Lexington received a similar grant last year, and the program helped launch several new businesses there.

ORIGINAL STORY: Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam announced $180,000 in Community Business Launch (CBL) grants would be awarded to Buchanan, Culpeper and Giles counties and the city of Norton.

The funding will provide training to entrepreneurs and help communities to conduct business plan competitions that coincide with local and regional economic development strategies, particularly in downtown areas, according to a release from the Governor's office.

Governor Northam made the announcement in Buchanan, where he presented local officials with a check.

“This initiative recognizes the importance of small business in our communities and combines funding with educational training to help prepare budding entrepreneurs to run successful businesses in their home communities,” said Governor Northam. “By aligning regional and local economic strategies with a community’s unique vision for its future, we can build support for the new and expanding businesses that fill storefronts and create new job opportunities.”

The CBL program is implemented through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

“This program has proven to be a success in communities throughout the Commonwealth by creating jobs and building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Community Business Launch is focused on building a diverse economy and bringing vibrancy to our downtown communities.”

Since 2014, the CBL program has awarded $1.44 million in funding across 24 Virginia communities serving more than 450 participating entrepreneurs, according to the release. Overall, it has gathered more than $2.25 million in private investment, creating more than 230 new full-time jobs and retaining at least 100.

There were ten applications received, requesting $449,325 in funding. The projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively with a focus on those with the ability to implement a successful campaign, alignment with regional or local strategies and the availability to match resources.

Each of the areas being awarded received $45,000, totaling $180,000 overall.

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