The RISE Collaborative.
The RISE Collaborative.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

Deadline to register for RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition is March 7

The South Boston-based RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition on March 28 will award more than $15,000 in prize money to local entrepreneurs and business owners. 

Registration for the event is open until March 7 and is free of charge. The pitch competition welcomes entrepreneurs in a variety of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, retail, professional services, food and education. 

Applicants must be residents of GO Virginia Region 3 (the cities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania and Prince Edward) and must have completed either the RISE Collaborative Business Bootcamp or a similar entrepreneurship training program.

All applications must include three parts to be considered for participation in the event: a video pitch (90 seconds maximum), a business plan and a financial projections worksheet. Anyone who needs resources or support to help with preparing an application can connect with RISE Collaborative and the Longwood Small Business Development Center for technical assistance.

RISE Collaborative’s first annual pitch competition is made possible by partnerships with sponsors from across Southern Virginia, including American National Bank & Trust, Benchmark Community Bank, First Citizens Bank, Hampden-Sydney College Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Letterpress Communications, Long & Foster Real Estate, Longwood University Office of Community and Economic Development, Southside Electric Cooperative and SOVA Innovation Hub Corporation. 

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for RISE Collaborative’s entrepreneurship training programs and pitch competitions. For more information, email Lauren Mathena, director of economic development and community engagement at Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, at 

RISE Collaborative Business Pitch Competition entrants will be considered for three prize categories: a startup prize of $1,000 (multiple winners), a scale-up prize of $5,000 (multiple winners) and a women-owned business prize of $1,000. Additional criteria for the woman-owned business prize, dubbed the Female Founder’s Fund. Full criteria for all categories are available on the RISE Business Pitch Competition registration page

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Powhatan County property donates perpetual easement to Virginia Board of Historic Resources

Belmead on the James Inc. has donated to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources a perpetual preservation and open-space easement over the Drexel-Morrell Center property in rural northeast Powhatan County.

The easement protects the property’s historic core, which consists of the circa-1898 Rosemont house and a frame stable, and more than 56 acres of open-space land. The easement, to be administered by the Department of Historic Resources, will shield the property from potential subdivision and commercial development, according to a release from the department.

The Drexel-Morrell Center operates from the Rosemont house and serves as an archival repository, a museum and a gathering place for storytelling, ancestry research and educational activities including lectures and workshops. The center focuses on telling the history of the African Americans who lived, worked, built and facilitated the growth of the nearby Belmead Plantation, located northwest of the intersection of Virginia 663 and Virginia 600. The center also highlights the vision and commitment of Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), a Philadelphia philanthropist and religious sister who founded the Catholic Order of the Blessed Sacrament, to educate Black students during the Jim Crow period. In 2000, Drexel became the second American-born individual to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Belmead on the James Inc., which acquired the center with grant funding from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund, intends to use the property for environmental education and activities emphasizing eco-social justice, according to the news release. The easement will help foster plans to create a trail system and the development of amenities such as outdoor classrooms, exhibit spaces and demonstration gardens.

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Free dental care to be provided March 2-4 in Abingdon

Residents of Southwest Virginia will have the opportunity to receive free dental extractions March 2-4 in Abingdon.

In partnership with the Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s Mission of Mercy program, more than 30 dentists and other volunteers will provide free care to approximately 100 adults at the Appalachian Highlands Community Dental Center’s “Mini-MOM” event. Patients will be seen from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 2 and 3, and from 7 a.m. to noon March 4. The event will take place at the community dental center in Abingdon.

For more information, visit