WAYNESBORO, VA- The City of Waynesboro Economic Development Department is announcing a new flagship program designed to support small business development, called Grow Waynesboro. Focused this year on finding and funding new and robust local businesses, it will award more than $20,000 to select entrepreneurs in the form of grants and training opportunities.
Grow Waynesboro is launching with a two-part community engagement strategy. In its initial phase, the initiative is focused on engaging students, residents and business leaders in a community-wide conversation on the types of locally owned businesses that have the potential to most impact Waynesboro’s long-term economic health. With the help of the Waynesboro High School’s Advanced Marketing Class, both economic development staff and local students are interviewing area residents about the entrepreneurship projects they would most like to see launch in Waynesboro. Videos of these conversations will be posted online throughout the coming weeks at GrowWaynesboro.com
“We’re excited to have an entrepreneurship program that touches not only the small businesses it seeks to assist, but also the broader community,” says Courtney Cranor, Assistant Director of Economic Development for the City of Waynesboro. “By engaging the broader community, we hope to build a stronger culture of entrepreneurship, encouraging not only direct grants and incentives for entrepreneurs, but also broad-based excitement and awareness of new businesses opening in Waynesboro.”
Buoyed by the enthusiasm of local residents, Grow Waynesboro will also seek to identify and cultivate entrepreneurs who have or are seeking to open new 2016 locally owned and located small businesses. These entrepreneurs are invited to submit their business concepts on the GrowWaynesboro.com site, where local judges will compare their viability and benefits for the City. Later this spring, on April 21st, approved projects will have the opportunity to present their plans to a live audience, where final grant winners will be announced.“We look forward to seeing what proposals surface in the coming weeks,” says Greg Hitchin, Economic Development Director for the City of Waynesboro. “We know there are many more entrepreneurial projects started every year in Waynesboro than are generally recognized, and we’re pleased to work this year to help better identify them, invest in them, and celebrate them with the broader community.”
Waynesboro High School is also excited to be a local partner. “We want our students to know that there are opportunities for them in the local economy,” says Waynesboro High School marketing teacher Dave Hennel. “Not only are they developing skills in interviewing, video editing, and marketing, but they are also meeting business leaders in the local community and building important relationships between the school and the local economy.”
Entrepreneurs interested in the initiative are encouraged to begin applying online now, with a final deadline for all written applications on April 4th.