Towns explore business growth

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Robyn Fowler

The towns of Victoria and Kenbridge are in the beginning stages to foster economic development in the county through a program with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Kenbridge Town Manager Robyn Fowler confirmed during a July 17 Kenbridge Town Council meeting.

Fowler said the program, Community Business Launch (CBL), is a program with the Virginia DHCD that, according to the DHCD website, “assist( s) communities in taking a systems approach to defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy.”

Fowler said the program has seen success in South Hill and South Boston.

Fowler said she and Victoria Town Manager Rodney Newton have met to discuss ways to potentially incorporate the program into the two towns, and met with representatives of Longwood University. She said the Victoria Town Council has voted in approval of carrying the project forward.

She said applying for a grant and determining which businesses the towns would most benefit from would be “the next step. We would get funding if it’s approved to help businesses start.”

Fowler said the Town of Kenbridge has received a grant from DHCD before. She said the towns are set to perform a survey for residents where they would cite which businesses they would like to see come to the county.

Fowler also said an interesting component of the program would be that the towns would organize a small business competition. Similar to Shark Tank, entrepreneurs would present their ideas to a board of judges. The winners of the competition would be determined by the businesses that best fit what residents most need.

“CBL will provide the tools to effectively prepare multiple entrepreneurs to operate successful businesses in a downtown or neighborhood commercial district and allow them to compete for funding to start up their new endeavor,” the DHCD website cited.