Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) Small Business Networking Session

The purpose of this session is to offer small business subcontractors an opportunity to meet with the potential awardee large business General Contractors for Construction Contract 3 for the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC).

Monday, March 20, 2017, 3:30 PM
Officer’s Club at Pickett Park
3951 Military Road, Blackstone, VA 23824

Please note: Access to the Small Business Networking Session will require presenting identification (valid driver’s license) at the Fort Pickett main gate. The Officer’s Club is located in the same building as the Nottoway County Planning Office.

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Governor McAuliffe Dedicates Renovated Capitol Square Building in Honor of Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today dedicated a newly renovated state office building in honor of Barbara Johns, who as a teen in 1951 led a group of students to walk out of their Farmville high school in protest of the dilapidated conditions, paving the way for a lawsuit that led to the desegregation of the nation's public schools.

"Barbara Johns didn't simply lead her classmates in a protest of inequitable schools. She led a group of young people and an entire nation to realize that courage was blind to age and race, and that real change requires action," said Governor McAuliffe. "The walkout she led kicked off an extraordinary chain of events that eventually invalidated the deception of 'separate but equal.' Having her name placed among the other giants in Virginia and American history who are celebrated on Capitol Square is a fitting tribute to her legacy."

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Shop Local, and Like It...

Shop Local, and Like It...

The ShopLocalVGA Site is growing with new merchants being added weekly. Now you can shop local, from the comfort of your couch.

Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA) is giving small businesses the opportunity to get noticed –online, while giving consumers more options to Shop Local.

Understanding that many localities and small businesses within our rural region aren’t able to develop and maintain a professional website, the VGA has launched an online e-­‐commerce site and business directory, free of charge, to supplement existing websites or even be used by some businesses and localities as their primary online presence.

Participation in the ShopLocalVGA.com online store is free of charge (except for associated credit card fees which will be deducted automatically by the merchant services providers.

Shop Now

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Announcing the Virginia Velocity Tour!

Announcing the Virginia Velocity Tour!

Innovative early-stage Virginia startups can apply by 8/18 to take part in the Virginia Velocity Tour, a multi-city bus tour of entrepreneurship in Virginia. Selected entrepreneurs will share meals with investors, customers and mentors in their industry, and take part in a $25,000 pitch competition. Applications are due August 18.

The Virginia Velocity Tour is part of Governor McAuliffe’s Virginia Velocity business plan competition, which launched last year to spur entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth. From September 19-23, the tour bus will travel to five regions across Virginia (Roanoke, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and Charlottesville) and hold a day of events to celebrate the region’s startup ecosystem, focused around a certain industry theme. Each day will feature events with local leaders and investors, a “startup crawl” of local incubators and businesses, and culminate in a public pitch competition with a $25,000 equity-free grant prize.

The tour is recruiting entrepreneurs to participate, and the application deadline is August 18. Although the bus is stopping in five regions, Virginia Velocity is recruiting from every part of Virginia – the team will invite entrepreneurs to join them for a particular day depending on their industry (for instance, the Hampton Roads pitch competition will feature entrepreneurs from across the Commonwealth who work in Health/Biotech).

About the requirements:

The tour is recruiting early-stage entrepreneurs that have raised less than $500,000.
Applicants must be incorporated in Virginia or have an office in the Commonwealth, and must have been engaged in business for at least six months.
There is no cost to apply.

If you know a venture that may be a fit, please help spread the word and promote the application to your networks.

Learn more here: virginiavelocitytour.org

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Micro Loan Program now available!

Great news for entrepreneurs looking start a new business or expand their current business! VGA is launching our new Pack Fund micro loan program, through which you can borrow up to $40,000 at low interest rates.

Whether you're looking to buy new equipment, launch a new product line, or just grow your business, the Pack Fund is a great opportunity for those who may not be able to get a bank loan.

A limited number of loans will be made, so don't delay in applying!

FIND OUT MORE HERE!

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Featured Site: Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center (MaMaC), Virginia's Only Certified MegaSite

Featured Site: Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center (MaMaC), Virginia's Only Certified MegaSite

The Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center is a 1,545-acre megasite offering a central position along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

With I-95 frontage, CSX main line rail access and a direct route to Virginia ports, the site boasts easy access to both national and international markets via road, rail, and sea.

MAMaC is the only megasite in Virginia, North Carolina or Maryland certified by McCallum Sweeney Consulting; no other industrial site can combine this certification with Virginia's superlative, award-wining business climate.

pdf Learn more about the Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center

 

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Building The Best Sandcastle: Meet UpStart Facilitator Sheri McGuire

Sheri McGuireSheri McGuire is the executive director of Longwood Small Business Development Center. She has helped craft the curriculum for Virginia’s Growth Alliances UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp and also is a facilitator during group sessions.

Through the SBDC, she provides follow-up mentoring and guidance to students when the bootcamp is completed.

 

We sat down with Sheri to get her insights on entrepreneurial excellence:

How is UpStart different from other courses designed to help entrepreneurs?

In the past, the course had been taught in the traditional classroom style. The focus was on writing a business plan. There was a textbook and lectures.

I looked at all that with Nick Langlie, and he suggested incorporating the Business Model Canvas, which focuses

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SVCC Awards its 20,000th Career Readiness Certificate

SVCC Awards its 20,000th Career Readiness Certificate

Southside Virginia Community College recently awarded its 20,000th Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) becoming the first member of the Virginia Community College System to reach the benchmark. The recipient was Isaiah Godfrey, a rising senior at Prince Edward County High School, who scored at the platinum level.

Virginia’s Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) is an assessment-based credential that gives employers and career seekers a uniform measure of key workplace skills. The WorkKeys system was developed by ACT (formerly American College Testing) to meet the demand from business and industry for a reliable screening tool that could help employers identify the best candidates based on the work-related skills needed to be successful on the job.

“The CRC is a wonderful tool for workforce development,” said Dennis Smith, Director of

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Entrepreneurship For Everyone: Mecklenburg Students Learn What It Takes To Start A Business

Entrepreneurship For Everyone: Mecklenburg Students Learn What It Takes To Start A Business

A lot has changed since Mecklenburg High School students first started school.

In the beginning, they could walk freely in and out of buildings. Almost anyone could visit at any time. But, schools have had to take steps to increase student safety.  Now students have to scan a badge to get in and out of buildings, while visitors must use a buzzer at the school entrance.

In a Biz Venture Entrepreneurship course being taught at Mecklenburg’s two high schools this year, students are creating their own businesses. Real businesses, with the opportunity for investment and growth beyond the classroom..

 “We hope to make a difference,” says Noah, a junior at Park View High School. He and his team of fellow students think their particular business idea has the potential to save lives when the badges and buzzers fail.

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From Doubtful Baker To Confident Businesswoman: UpStart Takes Maria’s Sweet Creations To The Next Level

From Doubtful Baker To Confident Businesswoman: UpStart Takes Maria’s Sweet Creations To The Next Level

Six months ago, former first-grade teacher and baking enthusiast Maria Hamilton wasn’t sure she wanted to be in business. Several years before, she’d left Cumberland Elementary School when she had her first child. Maria went from taking cupcakes to her children’s classrooms to baking wedding cakes. Soon, as friends started asking her to bake sweets for them, Maria’s hobby began supplementing her family’s income. She created a Facebook page and before long she had big clients, like Centra Southside Community Hospital, that used her for special events.

But, she wasn’t sure she could pull off owning her own business. “I was asking myself, ‘Am I really going to do this or should I go back to teaching?’” she says. “I wondered if I could run my own business.”

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New Issue of The Virginian!

New Issue of The Virginian!

Check out the latest issue of pdf The Virginian Spring 2015 .. It's full of information about life in the VGA!

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Entrepreneurship, Good Ideas, Business Risks and My Little Pony: Meet UpStart Instructor Nicholas Langlie

Entrepreneurship, Good Ideas, Business Risks and My Little Pony: Meet UpStart Instructor Nicholas Langlie

Dr. Nicholas Langlie, known to many as Nick, is the creator and lead instructor for UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp offered by Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA). The second bootcamp is scheduled to start mid-May and is open to any aspiring business owners living in the VGA region, which includes Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Lunenburg, and Prince Edward counties, and the City of Emporia.

For more information, visit http://www.thinkbiggervga/grow

Nick is currently the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIE) at Longwood University. He still chuckles about the acronym.

What’s the biggest thing you hope students learn during UpStart?

I want students to figure out great ideas that people are willing to pay for. And, if they can’t do that, to encourage them to not move forward with whatever idea they have. Because, business ideas

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UpStart Prepares Keysville-Native To Start Local Childcare Center

UpStart Prepares Keysville-Native To Start Local Childcare Center

LaTreasa Early has always had a gift for teaching. Although she currently works for the federal government helping adults earn their GED or high school diploma, her true love has always been early childhood education. “It has always been a passion of mine” says LaTreasa who holds two Master’s degrees, one in Education from Trinity University and one in Educational Leadership from George Mason University.

Now that passion is bringing her home.

Born and raised in Keysville, Virginia, Latreasa is working to open a preschool based in Charlotte County for the area’s youngest learners, from 6 months to four years old.

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A Love Of Stories Moves Local Reporter To Start Her Own Business

A Love Of Stories Moves Local Reporter To Start Her Own Business

A year ago, Ilsa Loeser had the distinct feeling that something was missing. Despite a successful job as a reporter at The Farmville Herald, where her work garnered her both state and national awards, she knew what she loved most was telling stories.

“There were all these people in the community that were doing good and interesting things and no one was telling their stories,” she says. Although The Herald covered many of them, between budget discussions, crime reports and house fires, reporters didn’t have enough time to capture them all. And since the people doing good were equally pressed for time, many powerful stories were simply not being told.

That’s when Ilsa decided to start her own business.

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Diesel Mechanic Shifts Into Gear Thanks To VGA’s UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp

Diesel Mechanic Shifts Into Gear Thanks To VGA’s  UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp

Austin Newsom always knew there was a need for an independent diesel mechanic in the Charlottesville area, even at the age of 17.

That’s when he bought his first diesel truck and, like vehicles are wont to do,  it broke down.

“There was no one to fix it,” says Austin, who was attending Albemarle High School at the time. “So, I fixed it myself.”

Now, at 26, he’s ready to start his own shop. For the past 4.5 years he’s been the in-shop mechanic for Foster Well & Pump Company, located in Earlysville, near Charlottesville, Virginia. With a certification in diesel and automotive repair and nine years experience, his weekends are already filled with side work on Jeeps and diesel vehicles.

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Governor McAuliffe Announces 113 New Jobs in Greensville County

510nano Incorporated to invest $11 million to relocate headquarters and establish manufacturing operation

510nanoGREENSVILLE COUNTY, VA - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today (March 16, 2015) that 510nano Incorporated, a developer of renewable energy projects and technologies, will invest $11 million to relocate its headquarters and establish a manufacturing operation in Greensville County. The company will construct a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for the production of solar panels in Greensville County Industrial Park. The project will create 113 new jobs.

 Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Creating these 21st century jobs in the advanced manufacturing and renewable energy sectors is critical as we work to build a new Virginia economy. 510nano’s investment in Greensville County is a huge win for the Commonwealth and especially for a community that is transforming itself.”
 
“Greensville County is a great fit for 510nano’s headquarters and new manufacturing operation, offering a site that meets the company’s needs, a superior workforce, a manufacturing industry cluster and close proximity to a world class port,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “We are confident that 510nano will continue to profitably pursue its strategic vision from its new Virginia location.”

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Free social media marketing workshops start in May

Free social media marketing workshops start in May

Newly revamped, powerful marketing workshop series!

Each workshop will focus on a different social media topic AND a different marketing concept.

These workshops are sponsored by Virginia's Growth Alliance for businesses in our member communities (counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Lunenburg, & Prince Edward, and the City of Emporia).

One outstanding participant AND their VGA member community will win $750 in free design services - that's $1500 total!

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Free Seminar Planned for Downtown Business Owners

Free Seminar Planned for Downtown Business Owners

A nationally recognized expert in the retail and restaurant industries with a specialization in small towns is coming to region to meet with business owners. Marc Willson is bringing his The Small Town and Merchant Program (STAMP) to Chase City, Clarksville, Lawrenceville and South Hill.
 
Willson, a National Retail Consultant with 40 years of retail experience, has helped more than 1000 retailers, restaurants, artists and tourism-related small businesses in more than 300 towns. Willson works with Longwood University and their Small Business Development Centers to host seminars for business owners and restaurateurs. The Virginia Small Business Development Centers and Willson’s STAMP recently won the Virginia Downtown Development Association’s 2013 Award of Excellence for Organizational Development. According to Jody Keenan, state director of the Virginia SBDC, STAMP has been beneficial for the retailers and restaurateurs who have participated increasing their revenues by as much as 65 percent.

“It is Willson’s use of low-to-no cost options that we find appealing, specifically his focus on developing and expanding the electronic footprint,” said Jeff Reed, executive director of Virginia’s Growth Alliance. “We have found that fewer than 20 percent of all businesses, organizations and attractions within the VGA region have an electronic presence that they manage and maintain. This hurts us in our efforts to attract new business and industry as well as visitors.”
 
Willson has kept in touch with the changing marketplace. “Because of the Internet and the pass of the control to the consumer, a small business owner has become the brand. It’s all about the personal connection and treating your customers like VIPs, learning their names and looking out for product you know they would like.”

Willson added, “This is my battle cry for small businesses, get found and be open. You have to be consistent with your hours and you have to be open when people are there to spend money.”

Willson began his retail career in 1975 as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the United States. He later joined Britches of Georgetown as a salesperson and finished his 12-year career there as Vice President of Operations after growing the company from nine stores to 109. Willson then joined Circuit City and opened 83 mall-based Circuit City Express stores. He later joined Crown Books and managed 250 bookstores as Vice President and General Manager. Next he became the President and CEO of the Bicycle Exchange, a chain of bicycle superstores in dire need of a turnaround.
Registration is required to attend. You can use this link to secure your place http://www.VGAgroundswell.com/stamp. The final day to register is Friday, March 13, 2015. The workshops are being conducted March 18-20. Learn more at www.VGAgroundswell.com. The sessions are being sponsored by Virginia’s Growth Alliance, Longwood University SBDC, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Virginia Tourism.

The program covers topics such as “Competing with the Big Boys”, “Window Signs and Visual Displays: Stewards of Your Brand,” and “Restaurateurs – The Experience is Twice as Important as the Food.”

Virginia’s Growth Alliance is a regional economic development marketing organization serving the city of Emporia, as well as Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties. www.vagrowth.com

THE SESSIONS WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS LIKE:
•    What’s different about running an independently owned business?
•    How do I define my customer and make sure I meet their needs?
•    My customers have changed… how do I deal with that?
•    How can I understand all the numbers?
•    How do I deal with lenders, vendors and landlords?
•    What do I need to remember when merchandising my store?
•    How do I get my financials done let alone understand them?
•    What are the “Top 10” customer tips?
•    How can I keep my customers coming back?
•    What do I need to do to market and promote my business on a limited budget?
•    How should I use online marketing and social networking?

And more…

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Governor McAuliffe Announces 37 New Jobs in Charlotte County

~ Blue Ridge Railcar Repair to invest $2.41 million to expand operation~

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Blue Ridge Railcar Repair LLC (Blue Ridge), a subsidiary of Patriot Rail Company LLC, will invest $2.41 million to expand its operations in Charlotte County. Virginia successfully competed against Louisiana for the project, which will create 37 new jobs.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Blue Ridge Railcar Repair was established in Charlotte County in December 2013, bringing an existing railcar repair facility back into operation and adding jobs and tax revenue to a community that has been hard hit by industry loss. Less than a year later, the company will expand to include railcar cleaning, blasting and painting capabilities to meet increased demand in the marketplace and grow its customer base, bringing an additional 37 new jobs that will pay above the county’s prevailing average wage. The new investment and job opportunities for Southern Virginia are exactly what we need to build a new Virginia Economy, and we look forward to Blue Ridge’s success in Charlotte County in the coming years.”

“The prosperity of existing businesses is vital to economic development in Virginia, and we are proud of Blue Ridge Railcar Repair’s success in Charlotte County in the past year,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “An increasing need for the company’s services in the market is great news, and the facility in Keysville can accommodate the demand with this expansion. We thank Blue Ridge for its investment, and commend Charlotte County on providing a business environment that allows the company to flourish.”

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New free marketing workshop series kicking off next week

Grow Social marketing workshop seriesVGA is kicking off a new free marketing workshop series, GrowSocial, in South Hill on Thursday, September 18 at 6:30pm. The same workshop will be presented in Farmville on Thursday, September 25 at 6:30pm.

This first workshop of the GrowSocial marketing workshop series will be an overview of the major social media outlets, explaining what each is, how they differ from each other, what they're used for, and how they can be used together in a coordinated way. We will also give an overview of Longwood SBDC's new UpStart entrepreneur bootcamp. Along with these topics, an overview of other new entrepreneur initatives of VGA will be presented with a discussion on how to get your small business involved.

Topics covered in the series will include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and other social channels; using blogging and newsletters in coordination with social media; and how to utilize the VGA’s new Shop Local website to sell online.

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