The Bright Buzz: Kindling entrepreneur-focused transformation in Winchester

Many communities have decided that supporting local entrepreneurs is key to a thriving Main Street and one Virginia initiative is receiving national attention!

The National Main Street Center’s Main Street Story of the Week takes a look at how a local property owner created an innovative community space for entrepreneurs and entertainment to thrive.  Jennifer Bell, Winchester’s Downtown Manager, highlights the Bright Center, a 38,000 square-foot mixed-use development housing offices for 20 businesses and organizations, the Bright Buzz for entrepreneurs, and the Bright Box for entertainment.  This entrepreneur-focused downtown project kindles a movement of dramatic transformation within Old Town Winchester.

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The Bright Center, Winchester, Virginia

Virginia Main Street Grants Announced

160921-grantwordcloud-2Governor McAuliffe recently announced $65,000 in Virginia Main Street program grant funding for five projects in the towns of Bedford and Blackstone, and the cities of Fredericksburg, Franklin and Winchester. The Downtown Investment Grants, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), are for design and economic vitality projects targeting areas of specific need in historic downtown neighborhoods located in Virginia Main Street communities. Grants are available to designated Main Street organizations to accelerate the economic revitalization of their downtown districts by helping implement innovative strategies, plans and programs that create an environment for increased private investment. This year, funded projects include a revolving loan pool program, facade grants, murals, banners, and brand implementation.

See more at: http://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18113

In addition, four financial feasibility study grants were awarded to the towns of Culpeper, South Boston and Wytheville, as well as the city of Staunton. These grants will allow the Main Street organizations in those communities to work with owners of significant “white elephant” buildings within their Main Street districts. The purpose is to identify the highest and best use of such properties and to develop sufficient information to allow the owner or Main Street organization to “shop” the rehabilitation and reuse of the property to private developers and investors.

Virginia Main Street grants are available to designated Virginia Main Street communities, and the next round of Virginia Main Street grant applications will be due next spring. Click here for more information about Virginia Main Street grant opportunities.

Pop-Up Altavista 2.0: Cultivating Local Entrepreneurs with an Educational Business Launch Competition

How can Main Street help entrepreneurs achieve a business expansion or start their own business?

The National Main Street Center’s Main Street Story of the Week features Pop-Up Altavista 2.0, Altavista On Track’s (AOT) second business launch competition.  Emelyn Gwynn, Main Street Coordinator for Altavista, highlights the program, which kicked off September, 2016.  Building off of AOT’s inaugural competition in January 2015, this second iteration is designed to lead local entrepreneurs through a nine-week educational program to help them plan for their business’ future.  This time they partnered with Virginia’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and utilized a program called GrowthWheel to create the curriculum.   Pop-Up 2.0 culminates with a “Business Expo Night” event where participants pitch their business ideas to judges for the opportunity to receive funding.  The winning businesses will be determined by the strength of the business plan, sustainability of the business, and the need for the business in the community.

Learn more >>

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Shop Local, Support Local with HuTerra and Virginia Main Street

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Travel Planner Ad, Southern Living, December 2016

There’s no better time to visit Main Street then the holidays. Winter celebrations bring revelers together to enjoy light shows, caroling and special shopping experiences with local merchants. There is a magic to shopping on Main Street that simply doesn’t exist at the mall. We can feel good about our shopping because keeping the cash register ringing at these local stores not only benefits the shop owner but the entire local economy.

This holiday season those benefits are multiplied. From November 15 to December 31, 2016, Virginia Main Street, in partnership with the HuTerra Foundation, will promote both shopping local on Main Street and supporting local nonprofits.  HuTerra is a great supporter of Main Street organizations with a goal to connect small businesses to the community by increasing customer traffic via their mobile app, My HuTerra, available for iOS or Android.

Download the My HuTerra app, pick your favorite nonprofit, and play the “Holidays on Main” game.  When you visit the local merchants at participating Virginia Main Street communities during the holidays, simply “check in” for a chance to win a gift basket or $5000 for your favorite nonprofit.  By shopping locally you can help HuTerra give away $50,000 to nonprofits throughout Virginia!

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens

 Learn more and download My HuTerra >>

 

One-Stop Website for Virginia Grants

Governor McAuliffe held his first Grants Summit recently at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Virginia. The educational event was attended by more than 70 State Agencies who gathered to hear from experts on writing an effective grant application.

The summit highlighted the Virginia grants portal, provided tips on writing a successful grant application, and highlighted the importance of establishing long term partnerships. Grants are an essential part of the Commonwealth’s federal funding opportunities that help fund critical areas such as education, health, public safety, and community development.

“Acquiring grant funding is a key way for state government to maximize the services we offer to taxpayers within budgetary resources we have,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Today’s summit brought together grant representatives from state agencies to share best practices and prepare to pursue every available financial opportunity wisely and aggressively.

Governor McAuliffe launched the Virginia Grants portal in September 2015 as a one-stop source for agencies to search for grant opportunities and to understand how federal tax dollars are being spent. The portal also provides information about which grants present opportunities for state and local governments as well as private businesses and organizations.  The website was developed as a way to foster collaboration among the state agencies and increase transparency.

 Learn More >>

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Discover What’s “Wythein:” Downtown Wytheville’s Vibrant New Website

DiscoverWytheinMain Street program websites come in many shapes and sizes.  The challenge is to create a simple and fresh website that promotes the Main Street organization and local brand while showcasing the unique charm of downtown and all it has to offer.

Downtown Wytheville Inc. recently updated their online presence with a website refresh that provides an informative, enticing and interactive experience for the user.  The site offers useful tools and information to its visitors, such as an easy to navigate, interactive map with a wide variety of filters from dining and shopping, to local community resources.  It appeals to entrepreneurs looking to locate in downtown by delivering a welcoming message, business investment guide and information on incentive programs.  It showcases the Main Street program, its mission, and ways to engage in support of downtown; and with mobile devices accounting for an increasing percentage of web traffic, Downtown Wytheville’s website can attractively acclimate to any screen resolution.

Learn more >>

 

 

The CRO Roadshow is coming to a location near you!

road-tripThis fall, the DHCD Community Revitalization Office is traveling throughout the state to highlight community development and capacity building programs and grants. Whether you are looking to revitalize a derelict and blighted building in your community or are interested in using the Main Street approach to community revitalization, we will introduce you to our services and programs and prepare you for the upcoming grant cycle.

Attendees will learn about the following programs.

  • Virginia Main Street
  • Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF)
  • Building Entrepreneurial Economies (BEE)
  • Community Business Launch (CBL)
  • Virginia Individual Development Accounts (VIDA)

Community Revitalization Office staff will provide an overview of each program and discuss successful and unique projects throughout Virginia. Staff will also be available to talk individually with attendees about potential projects or programs in their communities.

We will be in Front Royal on October 27th, Warsaw on November 7th and Pulaski on November 10th. We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information or to register for this event, click here.