Participants in the Walker Program, a community initiative to help establish and jump start minority businesses in the Rockbridge, Lexington and Buena Vista area, have been attending training sessions at the Mountain Gateway Community College Rockbridge Regional Center this summer with Culinary Program Head Mike Lund. From left: Lund with entrepreneurs and trainees Olaniyan Cash, Melissa Wooding, Latonya Douglas and Gabrielle Cash. Not pictured: Murdina McIntosh. Courtesy of Mountain Gateway.

Five entrepreneurs who are launching new businesses in the Rockbridge area are participating in a summer training course at the Mountain Gateway Community College Rockbridge Regional Center’s kitchen with culinary arts program head Mike Lund as the instructor.

All of the entrepreneurs are participating in the Walker Program, a community initiative whose goal is to help establish Black-owned businesses in Lexington, Buena Vista or Rockbridge County, and to create a network of support for further business development. It combines free business training, grant funding and a roster of resources to committed individuals who want to start or grow a business in the area. 

The program is named in honor of Harry Lee and Eliza Bannister Walker, leading entrepreneurs at the turn of the 20th century in downtown Lexington.

The training consisted of an overview and demonstration of all of the kitchen equipment, operating the dish machine and the proper setup of the three-compartment sink, proper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and work areas, also dividing up designated work and storage areas to each member. The training at the RRC wrapped up Aug. 15.

Walker graduates may earn three college credits for BUS 100, “Introduction to Business,” the first class toward receiving one or more of DSLCC business credentials, such as the office skills career studies certificate, small business management certificate, or business management associate of applied science degree. A complete list of credentials can be found on the DSLCC website. Walker graduates may contact MGCC business program head Rachael Thompson at for more information about the process.

The entrepreneurs and their new business ventures:

Murdina McIntosh, MannaVeda, created to address the growing need for quality hair products. The new company will provide original hair care formulas, using organic and effective ingredients and avoiding harmful and synthetic ingredients.

Latonya Douglas, Let’s Do Lunch, a catering company that can serve groups up to 50 people with a variety of menu options.

Melissa Wooding, Coffee Corner, which will provide a café experience with a variety of items, oriented around seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and gingerbread, located in the Rockbridge Regional Library. The café is a subsidiary of Let Them Eat Cake, Wooding’s Lexington baking company.

Olaniyan and Gabrielle Cash, Know Limit, which will provide herbal blends, decoctions and tinctures to assist clients in their healing journey, with a focus on wellness.

For more information about the Walker program contact Lori Turner, executive director, Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath and Alleghany, at 540-414-2674 or