WAYNESBORO – Local entrepreneurs planning to launch a Waynesboro business by March of 2019 will now be eligible for up to $10,000 in start-up grants to be awarded by the City’s small business development initiative, Grow Waynesboro. The most important requirement for prospective entrepreneurs: They must submit a summary of their business idea by May 22, 2018.
Grow Waynesboro will be working in the coming weeks to find, inspire, and connect with local entrepreneurs who may be a good match for the program. “Our goal between now and May 22nd is to reach as many potential entrepreneurs as possible,” says Courtney Cranor, Assistant Economic Development Director for the City of Waynesboro. “At this stage in the grant award process, we want to encourage as many ideas and submissions as possible. This is the community’s moment to articulate what small businesses it would like to start, grow and support in the coming year.”
All small business ideas will be accepted through the GrowWaynesboro.com portal through May 22nd. Applicants will be selected to proceed to an 8-week business planning class and intensive small business coaching program. During that time, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to develop their business plans, draft marketing campaigns, identify storefront locations, refine cash flow projections, and network with local mentors and business development experts.
“Grow Waynesboro is comprehensive in its approach,” says Greg Hitchin, the City’s Director of Economic Development. “We’re combining top-notch business training with start-up grants to ensure that our 2018-2019 businesses have both the capital and expertise they need to succeed in Waynesboro.”
Once entrepreneurs have successfully completed the business planning course, their final ideas will compete for up to $10,000 in a start-up grant award. Cranor reports that a panel of judges will prioritize job creation, filling empty storefronts, and the ability to successfully launch by March 31, 2019 in their review of the final proposals.
“Our 2018 initiative builds on the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem aided by our previous two years’ programs,” says Cranor. The 2016 and 2017 Grow Waynesboro grant cycles resulted in the opening of now iconic Waynesboro destinations, including BlueOregano Culinary Services, whose most recent Main Street brunch sold out in 45 minutes, as well as Make Waynesboro, which offers community ceramics classes in the Mill at South River near the Waynesboro Greenway. Over the past two years, Grow Waynesboro grants have launched a downtown co-working space, helped fund the opening of six independent businesses, and provided thirty people in-depth business planning classes taught by the Staunton Creative Community Fund and Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center.
2018 represents the first year the program will continue with entirely local funding, with start-up grants provided by the local investments of regional sponsors including Lumos, Union Bank & Trust, and Shentel, with additional fundraising continuing throughout the grant cycle.
“Successful local businesses know and believe in the potential of the Waynesboro economy,” says Cranor. “Their commitment to funding the 2018 grant cycle demonstrates the full cycle of a successful local economy, with our most established businesses lifting up and assisting the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
The Grow Waynesboro program is administered through the City of Waynesboro Economic Development & Tourism Department and managed by the Waynesboro Economic Development Authority.
For additional information on the 2018 business plan competition, please visit GrowWaynesboro.com