Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rural leadership group now taking applications
TheVirginia Rural Leadership Institute is now taking applications for its next cohort.
The institute says it is “the first and only program in the Commonwealth that focuses entirely on retaining and attracting rural Virginians, by developing leaders who are innovative, responsible, civic minded and build strong regional communities.”
Over the course of four sessions, cohort members will receive professional leadership and economic development training that equips community leaders with the skills they need to lead long-term economic advancement in their community and region. The program also seeks to increase cooperation, collaboration and coordination across a broad array of organizations and sectors. The sessions for the 2023 VRLI cohort are:
Session 1 – Southside Virginia
The Bee Hotel – Danville
May 18, 19 and 20
Session 2 – Middle Peninsula/Northern Neck
St. Margaret’s School – Tappahannock
June 28, 29 and 30 (Note: Wed.-Fri.)
Session 3 – Southwest Virginia
Western Front Hotel – St. Paul
Sept. 7, 8 and 9
Session 4 and Graduation – Shenandoah Valley
Blackburn Inn – Staunton
Nov. 2, 3 and 4
For more information about VRLI, please email: email@example.com
Applications are here.
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VCEDA awards grant to Norton wig store
The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant to B’s Wigs, Extensions and Beauty Supply LLC in Norton.
The business is owned by Gary and Rebecca Williams, who worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College in developing the application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the city of Norton Industrial Development Authority.
“My wife and I were sitting around one evening, looking at TV and noticed a woman with wigs and that got us to thinking, there’s nothing like that here,” Gary Williams said in a statement. “It’s something somebody might want or need and she said we ought to start a business and it kind of took off from there.”
For-profit businesses that are a year old or less and have fewer than 10 full-time employees can apply for matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region, which includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.
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Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation names new officers, Virginia development director
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation recently appointed new officers and members to the organization’s board of trustees and council of advisors. The nonprofit also selected Kevin Brandt as its new development director for Virginia.
The board of trustees elected the following officers:
- Former vice chair Bob Stout of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was elected chair of the board of trustees. He is a retired regional president of US Foods.
- Whitney Brown of Meadows of Dan was named vice chair. Brown is a dry-stone waller, folklorist and writer.
- Bob Lassiter of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was selected treasurer. He retired as finance manager for HanesBrands/Haeco Americas.
- Julie Moore of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, continues to serve as secretary.
Based in Lynchburg, Brandt was previously the project manager for the foundation, serving as a liaison between the organization and National Park Service to shepherd projects to completion, including the rehabilitation of Flat Top Manor at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park. Brandt joined the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation team after four decades with the National Park Service. He retired after serving as superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Site.
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VCEDA awards grant to Russell County internet company
Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded a $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant to Air Fiber Communications Inc. of Russell County.
“One of VCEDA’s seed capital qualifying business sectors is information technology and Air Fiber Communications Inc. falls into that category as it seeks to provide and grow Internet access to e-Region residents,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel in a statement. “The business is projecting 12 full-time jobs within five years, according to its application.”
The business, owned by Jodi Eaton and Joshua Eaton, opened officially last April and owns its own towers and has space on others leased. The Wireless Internet Service Provider — or WISP — and its primary customers are those living in rural regions of Russell County who have limited or no high-speed internet options.
According to Joshua Eaton, current service areas include those in Honaker, New Garden Road, Finney and River Mountain, and plans are to further expand service to Rosedale and toward Claypool Hill and possibly, he said, into the town of Lebanon.
The company, which opened in April 2022 with 18 subscribers, currently has a subscriber base of 157.
Eaton noted the VCEDA seed capital grant was utilized toward the purchase of transmission equipment related to tower installation and for inventory of receivers and routers needed for end users to access Internet service.
VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, 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.