The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) recognized its 2022 Startup Martinsville-Henry County graduates, awarding over $37,000 to 13 businesses in the Martinsville-Henry County area.
“This year, I have to say, it was the most competitive group ever,” said Chamber President Lisa Watkins at the ceremony. She said there were 62 applicants for the program, which ultimately was whittled down to 25.
Award recipients recently completed the Success Mindset, an intensive eight-week entrepreneurial boot-camp program for startups. The training component is provided by Patrick & Henry Community College in partnership with C-PEG, Longwood Small Business Development Center, SCORE, Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, staff from Martinsville and Henry County and local entrepreneurs, several of whom are graduates of the program themselves.
Startup began as a Community Business Launch Grant through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. This program has since expanded from a small footprint in Uptown Martinsville to the entire City of Martinsville and Henry County thanks to generous support from the Campbell Family Group, LLC.
Partners that support this important C-PEG economic development initiative include the City of Martinsville, Henry County, Campbell Family Group, the George W. Lester II Fund, and The Anonymous Fund through the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia, and beginning this year through a three-year grant, the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission for specific industry sectors. Additionally, Appalachian Power is a sponsor of Startup and Grow MHC, and American National Bank is the small business sponsor for Chamber and C-PEG events. Startup and Grow MHC graduate Christopher Lawless, owner of Lawless Welding and Fabrication, Inc. also supports this initiative.
“Today we’re giving away the most awards I believe we’ve ever given away,” said Watkins, acknowledging that statistic would not have been possible without the support of those funders.
Including last week’s graduates and awards, the initiative has celebrated 253 graduates and awarded 48 businesses with over $334,622 in cash and in-kind funding. This most recent group will build on the accomplishments of Startup and Grow MHC businesses that have created over $3,556,000 in new capital investment and created 190 new jobs while maintaining an 86 percent success rate in comparison to the nationwide 50 percent average for small businesses.
“We will be cheering for you and helping you every step of the way to make sure that we keep that rate and maybe even go a little higher,” Watkins said. “Our program’s track record is really unique, and we want you to be able to add to that.”
All participants received training at no cost, and any participant who opens a business will receive a yearlong free membership in the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s award recipients were:
*GAPS Healthcare, PLLC ($2,025)
*OakStone Health and Nutrition, owned by Samantha Turner, LLC ($867.50)
*Leatherwood Products ($4,000.77)
*Four Rivers Counseling ($1,550)
*Stick’s Welding ($4,145.40)
*Naturally Enchanted ($1,372.50)
*And Love ($2,604.89)
*Bear Claw Leatherworks ($2,854.25)
*Creative Contouring by Melinda ($4,000)
*The Cheesecake Lady ($5,552.25)
*Something Sweet & the Word for Your Soul ($5,000)
*Cobler Consulting, LLC ($1,200)
*Faithful Service Lawn Care ($2,100).
The cash awards for 2022 total $37,272.56 for startup businesses.
Additionally, Patrick & Henry Community College has provided in-kind Fab Lab memberships for one year at the Dalton IDEA Center to Leatherwood Products, And Love, and Bear Claw Leatherworks with a total value of $7,500.
Through an opportunity provided by the Sova Task Force through GO Virginia Region 3, OakStone Health and Nutrition, And Love, Bear Claw Leatherworks, Creative Contouring by Melinda, Cobler Consulting LLC, and Faithful Service Lawn Care are eligible to leverage their Startup MHC awards with a total of $17,640 in support to create and/or enhance their online presence and marketing.
Watkins thanked Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki for “tirelessly reading business plans with us,” as well as C-PEG Board Chairman Amanda Cox of Appalachian Power, Rhonda Hodges and Matthew Ratliff of Patrick and Henry Community College, and Michael Scales who, she said, worked with the entrepreneurs on honing their business plans.
“I can assure you that team is going to be there with you, along with me, helping you every step of the way. You just need to reach out to us to let us know what it is that you need. We’ll be checking in with you, not to be nosy, but just to make sure you’re okay,” Watkins told the entrepreneurs.
“Today’s a fantastic day in Martinsville and Henry County,” Watkins said, congratulating those who completed the small business training program. She noted that several of the day’s awardees planned to locate in Uptown Martinsville, adding to the 27 new businesses and expansions that have occurred in the area since Feb. 2020.
“As your community’s Main Street affiliate, C-PEG will continue to positively impact our business community,” Watkins said.
Call Watkins at (276) 632-6401 with questions about participation in C-PEG’s next Startup and Grow MHC programs.
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