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Grant to boost business growth

Lunenburg County — with the support of Kenbridge and Victoria — has received a $15,000 planning grant with no required monetary match for establishing infrastructure to help new businesses grow.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development offers the Building Entrepreneurial Economies (BEE) grant. The county and towns applied for the grant in May.

The grant will allow an incubator system for new businesses to be developed.

“Once this grant is completed, Lunenburg, Kenbridge and Victoria will be positioned for additional grant programs supporting entrepreneurship and leadership training,” Lunenburg County Economic Developer Beverley Hawthorne said.

In a previous interview, Hawthorne said neither town would likely qualify for the grant alone, but working together would increase the chance.

Additional parts of the BEE grant include plans that would strengthen efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, including an organization of retirees who could share their knowledge and skills with new entrepreneurs.

According to Hawthorne, the Kenbridge Community Center, which already houses town offices and an auditorium promoted as a place

for concerts and plays, has space where small businesses could open. Additionally, a leadership program could be established to help encourage younger people and to help identify entrepreneurs, she said.

The grant for Lunenburg is a portion of $202,600 granted to several localities last week.

“Small business development is a vital component

of the new Virginia economy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a press release. “The BEE grant awards will support our homegrown assets and create new opportunities for economic diversification. By supporting small business programs in communities across the commonwealth, we are building a strong entrepreneurial environment that will ensure that Virginia continues to be the best place for individuals to start and grow their companies.”

“By leveraging public and private resources, we are able to assist projects that will result in the creation of businesses and jobs in these communities,” added Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore in the release.