Here’s a round-up of business news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to

Newspaper guilds implore Lee newspapers to reject Alden bid

Last week, Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund with a reputation for acquiring newspapers and cutting their staffs, made a bid for Lee Enterprises, whose properties include most of the daily newspapers in Virginia. Lee – based in Iowa – responded by adopting a “poison pill” strategy to give it time to study Alden’s offer. On Monday, the newspaper guilds at 12 Lee newspapers across the country issued an open letter calling on Lee to reject the offer. Those guilds include the Timesland News Guild at The Roanoke Times, the Blue Ridge NewsGuild at the Daily Progress in Charlottesville and the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The statement said in part: “Look to the many examples of newsrooms now operated by Alden, and you will not find one that is better positioned to serve its community. Alden has cut their staffs at twice the rate of competitors, resulting in the loss of countless jobs. They’ve fostered unhealthy and untenable workplaces that make it impossible to retain talent.”

The guild statement also said of Alden: “They are not good stewards of their investments. They do not even try to run a sustainable news company. They will not turn profits by growing the business and increasing revenue. They will do so by gutting newsrooms. They will take this proud company, built over decades of hard work, and leave it in ashes . . . In rejecting Alden’s offer, you will send a message to the country that predators like them have no place in journalism.”

Lee’s Virginia papers include the dailies in Bristol, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Danville, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Richmond and Roanoke plus many weeklies and semi-weeklies, such as the ones in Rocky Mount and Wytheville.

ValleyStar Credit Union opens new administrative building in Rocky Mount

ValleyStar Credit Union opens the doors of its new administrative building in the Summit View Business Park in Rocky Mount with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 10 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Anchoring this Rocky Mount administrative building with our Martinsville headquarters, enables ValleyStar to better position itself to improve more lives,” Mike Warrell, ValleyStar CEO said in a statement. “The success of our employees and making sure they are empowered to help our members, is at the crux of what we do at ValleyStar. With these two mainstay locations, the ValleyStar team will be able to grow its talented team of financial experts who live and work in the communities we serve.”

James Rorrer, ValleyStar board chairman, said that “being part of the growing Summit View
business park provides access to new business opportunities that will allow the credit union to provide more value to all its members.”

The new Summit View location in Franklin County will house ValleyStar team members that include the executive team, IT, and members from the accounting, and marketing teams.

Black Bear BBQ LLC Approved for VCEDA Seed Capital Grant

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has approved a $6,500 grant for Black Bear BBQ, located on 516 West Main Street in Appalachia in Wise County.

Chris Williams. Courtesy of VCEDA.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.

“Assisting small businesses like Black Bear BBQ to pursue their business plans of providing services and creating jobs in our communities is what the VCEDA Seed Capital Grant program is all about,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher in a statement. “Black Bear BBQ projects creating eight full time and six part-time jobs within five years.”

The business is located in an Appalachia building built in the 1940s and newly renovated. It has the ability to seat 70.  Williams said in a statement he was inspired by the growth of tourism through motorcycle tours in the region. “The VCEDA grant helped me tremendously,” Williams said. “The cost of everything has gone up and I had some huge overruns as a result of that. We used the grant to purchase two rugs and stainless steel tables and other small equipment pieces.” He worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in the development of his application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.