Monthly Archives: June 2015

Governor McAuliffe announces 14 winners of first-ever Community Business Launch

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that 14 entrepreneurs were awarded grants to open or expand their businesses through the Virginia Community Business Launch (CBL) initiative. The pilot program supports small business development and included three $100,000 grants to Gloucester, Staunton and Hopewell.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Entrepreneurship and small business development are important components of my administration’s strategy to build a new Virginia economy.  The CBL Initiative fosters strong ecosystems for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Virginia’s communities, an indispensable ingredient for them to thrive.”

“Job growth in the Commonwealth requires entrepreneurs and small businesses in every community across the state. CBL is demonstrating the power of public and private sector partners collaborating to create and sustain best-in-class business environments that help our communities prosper,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.

CBL utilizes local business competitions to find and foster entrepreneurs that connect with a community’s unique small business development strategy and vision for its future. This year’s entrepreneurs went through a rigorous eight-week course to comprehensively prepare to operate successful businesses in their downtown or neighborhood commercial district. The competition ended with a pitch night where the participating entrepreneurs gave brief presentations of their business and their plan for moving forward. In each community, several winners were chosen to receive grants and in-kind support for the launch or expansion of their business. In addition to the grants provided through CBL, additional local partnerships provided marketing, rental and utility assistance to numerous winners and even funded an additional $5,000 grant for an additional business.

Winners from the 2015 CBL include:

Business Name Owner Grant Amount
Latitudes Fair Trade Store Anna Schoenduby $12,000
EccoHollow Art and Sound Wavley Groves $10,000
3 Snugbugs Studios Patty Brower $10,000
106.3FM WQSV Community Radio Tom DuMontier $10,000
Staunton Olive Oil Company Michelle Gallaugher $4,000
Traipse Darren Smith $4,000


Business Name Owner Grant Amount
Sweet Tooth Parlor Crystal Burton $20,000
The Nines Pet Boutique and Photography Karin Fary $10,000
Essential Wellness Bodywork Jill Reece and Ginger Platsis $5,000


Business Name Owner Grant Amount
Fat Babs Dave McCormack $20,000
Sweet Tooth Craig Richards $20,000
The Greedy Spoon Marilyn Craig $15,000
K and J Fitness Lamonz Tyler $15,000

The program is currently accepting applications from communities for the CBL program for the upcoming year. For more information about the Virginia Community Business Launch, visit


Governor Kicks Off 100-Day Challenge to Improve Housing for Individuals with Disabilities

Governor McAuliffe today announced the launch of a 100-day challenge to kick off the Commonwealth’s Housing and Supportive Services (HSS) initiative to increase integrated, independent housing options for people with an intellectual or developmental disability in the Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond regions.

“Virginia is committed to providing more housing options for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who desire to live in a home of their own,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “The Commonwealth is making a purposeful shift away from using institutional settings, and helping individuals and their guardians choose where to live, how to live and with whom to live.”

With the help of HSS, teams from the three regions involved in the challenge are working to develop a set of goals that they can reach within the 100 days of the challenge.

“The implementation of the Olmstead Community Integration Plan, which is a priority of the state’s housing policy, seeks to expand community living options for people with disabilities, which is at the heart of this initiative,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel. “The planning and implementation efforts of these regional teams will provide an increasing number of community-based independent and integrated housing opportunities to these individuals.”

“Our talent is our most important asset, and we owe that talent the infrastructure necessary for them to be their best,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “High-quality, affordable housing in our communities is essential for those residents with intellectual and physical disabilities to live and thrive.”

At the conclusion of the 100-day challenge in October, all the teams will meet again to share their accomplishments and plan the next steps with state leaders and other community teams to keep this initiative moving forward.

For more information about the HSS Initiative, visit

Governor McAuliffe Announces Launch of Virginia Business Plan Competition

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the launch of a key component of his efforts to catalyze entrepreneurism in the Commonwealth.  The Virginia Velocity business plan competition opened today and is overseen by the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade.  The competition focuses on entrepreneurs in the key strategic growth sectors of bioscience and energy.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “It is critical to support, attract and retain entrepreneurs in the Commonwealth.  Startup firms are a particularly important source of job sector growth for building the new Virginia economy.  Entrepreneurism and innovation are key to growth in every part of urban, rural and suburban Virginia.  This business plan competition is a great vehicle for encouraging more entrepreneurs to take the next step toward building a thriving and productive Virginia business.”

“Enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Virginia is an important part of the Governor’s overall economic development strategy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “Entrepreneurism is integral to growing businesses and jobs, and Virginia Velocity provides an opportunity to strengthen the ecosystem by highlighting the work of entrepreneurs everywhere and helping them take their businesses to the next level.”

Virginia Velocity will provide $850,000 in prizes for winners, and at least four winners will be chosen.  The competition is open to all companies in the bioscience and energy sectors, including those based outside of Virginia.  There are a large number of judges with specific industry expertise in energy and bioscience. Each judge will be pre-qualified to ensure they have industry knowledge and can bring their expertise to this competition.

Among other requirements, eligible competitors must be for-profit organizations that have been engaged in their current business for at least 24 consecutive months.  Winning companies must be willing to locate in Virginia for at least two years and are expected to have an office operating in Virginia by January 1, 2016.  The minimum age to apply is 18 years of age, and the deadline for submitting an application is July 17, 2015.

More detailed information and rules about applying for the competition are available on the Virginia Velocity website at