Posted on April 25, 2012 by Alfred Arzuaga
Congratulations to David Stone, owner and founder of Solid Stone Fabrics on being selected as a finalist in the Momentum Business category of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s (AEO) Power of One Awards.
Stone founded Solid Stone Fabrics in 2003 and operates in his hometown of Martinsville, VA, a Virginia Main Street community who has seen industries come and go. Its chief industry for many early years was the manufacture of plug chewing tobacco. Following the American Civil War, the plantation economy collapsed, leading the way for the creation of the tobacco monopolies by R.J. Reynolds and James Buchanan Duke in the early 20th century. After this period, the city’s main industry was furniture construction. Shortly after the second World War, DuPont built a chemical manufacturing plant, giving way to a thriving chemical industry, which led to Martinsville asserting itself as an independent city in 1928. In the early years of the Cold War, DuPont built a manufacturing plant for producing nylon, a vital war material, sparking the growth of the textiles industry in the area. Martinsville became known as the “Sweatshirt Capital of the World.” The 1990s brought about major changes in global economics and trade that made textile manufacturing financially unfeasible in Martinsville, leading to the closure of many firms and thousands of laid-off workers.
This brief look back at the industrial history of Martinsville serves to highlight the importance of Solid Stone Fabrics’ success. Stone found a niche market in stretch materials and produces banners for Schools and universities across the nation and costumes for Sea World and Disney performers, as well as other textile products for a wide range of clients including The Virginia Museum of Natural History.
Please join us in celebrating this recognition and wishing him continued success.
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Posted on April 20, 2012 by Brad Belo - Virginia Main Street
Microenterprises, businesses with five or fewer employees, are probably some of the most common business start-ups on Virginia’s Main streets. These scrappy entrepreneurs bring energy and new ideas to empty store fronts and formerly boarded up buildings. So, it’s probably a good idea to know how the organizations that assist microentrepreneurs are doing.
And that is what you get in the recently published 2011 U.S. Microenterprise Census from the FIELD Program at the Aspen Institute.
The trend data, comparing the responses of organizations that reported to both the 2008 and 2010 surveys, is promising, showing that nationally the survey respondents:
- Increased the annual number of individuals assisted by 15%;
- Increased the size of their operating budgets by 16%;
- Increased the number of microloans disbursed by 25%;
- Increased the dollar value of microloans disbursed by 23%;
- Increased their outstanding microloan portfolios by 26%; and,
- Increased their total microloan capital by 21%.
The census also showed that in 2010, microenterprise programs offered a variety of microfinancing products, including microloans (64%), credit build loans (22%), microgrants (10%), microequity (10%), small business loans (28%) and individual development accounts (25%). The median average loan size increased slightly from $13,111 in 2008 to $14,172 in 2010.
Nearly all of the survey respondents provide business development technical assistance (90%) and training (83%). 65% provide business development mentoring, and an increasing number provide financial literacy training (61%) and credit counseling (37%).
The microTracker website allows you to review the information reported and compiled in the 2011 U.S. Microenterprise Census, including the data for each state. For example, in 2010, the 11 Virginia microenterprise development organizations that reported information for the census disbursed a total of 221 loans, with a median loan size of $14,187. These organizations also reported $7.7 million in total microloans outstanding and 4,534 individuals and 745 businesses served via a combination of business development services and microfinancing.
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Posted on April 16, 2012 by Brad Belo - Virginia Main Street
Congratulations to Culpeper Renaissance, Inc., a 2012 Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA) winner. Recognized as a leader in implementing the Main Street Four-Point Approach®, embracing sound historic preservation practices and building strategic partnerships, Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. (CRI) was honored at the Main Street Awards Ceremony at the 2012 National Main Streets Conference in Baltimore, Md.
The National Trust Main Street Center’s annual GAMSA awards recognize exceptional accomplishments in revitalizing the nation’s historic Main Street commercial districts. CRI is credited with leading the once-thriving downtown district back to vitality after steady decline that began in the 1970s. The demolition threat to a once-bustling train depot was the spark that ignited citizen action. CRI was formed in 1987, became a Main Street program in 1988 and joined public and private entities in redeveloping the depot, making streetscape and infrastructure improvements and restoring badly damaged storefronts. Vacancies are now down to 6 percent from 86, thanks to a mix of banks, boutiques and coffee shops. Upper floor apartments along Culpeper’s Davis Street are occupied, and the downtown is again thriving.
Culpeper demonstrates what can be achieved with a strong commitment to historic preservation and a broad base of supporters,” says Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center. “This combination enabled its swift but thoughtful recovery from the 2011 earthquake and promises a bright future for Culpeper as a growing regional cultural and entertainment destination.
A great two-minute video summarizing the town’s accomplishments was shown at the awards presentation ceremony and can be viewed on the Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. 2012 GAMSA page.
Culpeper is the fourth Virginia Main Street community to be awarded a Great American Main Street Award. Previous Virginia GAMSA award winners include Staunton (2002), Manassas (2003) and Lynchburg (2006).
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