The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce hosted a key presentation on Sept. 13 to celebrate the 48 businesses that have opened or expanded in Uptown Martinsville since Feb. 2020.
Nearly two dozen business owners attended the presentation, in which locally made keys were presented as a token of success.
The awards were presented by Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson, City Council Member Danny Turner, and Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
Lawson said that Uptown Martinsville is a better place thanks to all of the new businesses.
“Because of you, we have more people Uptown, we have footsteps Uptown, and you are making our community more vibrant, and people will want to come here,” she said.
Lisa Watkins, president of the chamber, noted importance of supporting new business owners.
“For each of you, we thank you for investing in our community and investing in Uptown Martinsville,” she said, adding that she hopes “that we all support and promote our businesses here. These folks have invested themselves in our community because they believe in us as people that will support them.”
She also urged community members to address concerns directly to business owners instead of taking to social media.
“If you ever have an opportunity or a situation where your expectations weren’t up to what you anticipated, handle that privately. Then, I guarantee you what you post to social media as the outcome of that resolution will be much more positive than just an initial complaint that you voiced,” Watkins said.
Since the beginning of the chamber’s Startup and Grow Martinsville and Henry County program in 2016, 283 have successfully completed the program, which has a success rate (defined as a business that has stayed in operation since opening) of 86 percent. The Small Business Administration’s success rate for Virginia is 50 percent.
Of the 48 new or expanded businesses, seven were in 2020, nine were in 2021, and 32 so far this year.
Kimberly Keller-Bonacci, Uptown Entrepreneurial Development Manager, said, “We hope that we can continue to support additional businesses. It is our goal to continue to attract businesses to Uptown and to Martinsville-Henry County areas in general. We just hope that people can come Uptown and support them as much as they can.”