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Roanoke Region Small Business Development Center: Helping Small Businesses Succeed

SBDC RoanokeGetting a new business off the ground, growing a small business, or just aspiring to be a business owner is hard work, and knowing where to start is one of the major hurdles. If you live or plan to start your company in the Roanoke Region, there are plenty of resources to help you get going and sustain momentum for long term success. 

The Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center is one of those resources. We put the spotlight on the services provided by the RRSBDC as they put out their annual report. 

The mission of the RRSBDC is "to promote small business creation, growth, and development, by providing no cost professional business counseling, affordable training opportunities, and information resources." They serve the entire region and last year provided 732 hours of free counseling to nearly 200 clients, helping to create 61 jobs and 23 start-ups in 2013. 

They can walk you through every step of the process, from writing a business and marketing plan, to taxes, to hiring. They can even assist you in selling your business. Through their website, you can download their Entrepreneur Guidebook: A guide to starting and running your small business for free. This 50 page PDF book provides all the information you need to get started in entrepreneurship in the Roanoke Region. 

If you are considering starting a business of your own, the RRSBDC is a resource you can't afford to bypass. 

Check out the RRSBDC website for more information >>>

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VT Knowledgeworks Wants to Give You $25,000

VT KnowledgeWorks The VT Knowledgeworks Game Changers Challenge is back.

One individual or team of entrepreneurs will have a shot at at $25,000 "Running Start" loan and a startup services package from VT Knowledgeworks. Anyone can enter as long as their product meets the guidelines. 

Finalists will be selected by VT Knowledgeworks staff, and will have the opportunity to make a 15-minute presentation pitch to the committee. 

The deadline to enter is May 9, 2014 so get those ideas down on paper and enter. 

Find out more about the entry guidelines and how to enter >>>

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters is in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

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CoLab Set for Grand Opening in Grandin Village

Entrepreneurs in the Roanoke Region will soon have a new place to meet and collaborate on projects large and small. The former Business Lounge is relocating from downtown Roanoke to a new space in Grandin Village and is set to open this week. 

The new location has the co-working space upgrading from 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet, a move that was a response to high demand. The move also comes with a rebranding effort. The new space will be called CoLab, and will collaborate with Virginia Western Community College to offer seminars oh how to succeed in owning a business. 

CoLab is an all purpose office and event space offering startups and small business the resources of an office without the upfront costs. The aim is to bring together community leaders, entrepreneurs, freelancers and the like into a collaborative atmosphere. The CoLab also hosts events, workshops, and seminars on starting a business, marketing, and technology. 

The Grandin location is set to open March 6th. 

Check out the Grandin CoLab website for more info >>>

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Looking for Assistance? One Roanoke Region Entrepreneur Could Earn $25,000

VT KnowledgeWorksVT KnowledgeWorks is pleased to announce the Game Changers Challenge, a new opportunity for entrepreneurs. One entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team may qualify for a $25,000 “Running Start” loan plus a package of free startup assistance services. Solid runners-up may also qualify for free startup assistance.

Any aspiring entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team may enter. The challenge is open to all who meet the following criteria:

  • The product or service to be provided by the venture must either be consumed (not simply re-marketed) by another business, or be integrated into a more complex end-product for downstream sale.
  • The targeted buyers must constitute a relatively narrow demographic niche that can be addressed with limited resources.
  • The proposed product or service must powerfully address some widely acknowledged niche need.
  • High leverage must be obtained by the $25,000 (not just the first $25,000 out of a $1M needed for launch, for instance).
  • The entrepreneurial team must be able to fill the technology leadership roles in the proposed venture.
  • The team must be committed to locating business operations in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
  • Any intellectual property related to the enterprise must be appropriately owned or licensed by the enterprise.

Finalists will be selected by VT KnowledgeWorks staff, and will then be invited to make a 15-minute presentation to the Running Start Committee on their proposed new ventures. There will be no public events, nor will competing teams be allowed to attend each other’s presentations. In the absence of a solid applicant, no loan will be made. This is a qualifying process, not a contest.

Proposals must be submitted in accordance with the guidelines available on the VT KnowledgeWorks website www.vtknowledgeworks.com. The deadline for 2013 application submissions is Nov. 1, 2013.

Applications should be submitted to christine.spalding@vtknowledgeworks.com.The selection committee will review applications and VT KnowledgeWorks will communicate with applicants shortly thereafter. Awards will be announced in late November/early December.

For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at jim.flowers@vtknowledgeworks.com.

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters is in Blacksburg, Virginia.

VT KnowledgeWorks corporate sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, The Branch Group, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law Group, Latimer IP Law, LLC, LeClairRyan, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and Wordsprint.

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New Course Will Help You Launch a Business in 1 Semester

Virginia Western Community CollegeVirginia Western Community College is launching a new business course this fall that teaches student and prospective entrepreneurs how to launch their own business in one semester. The Entrepreneurship Plus Program will offer unique hands-on experience and act as a business incubator.

Registration is underway. Classes begin Aug. 21.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to offer an entrepreneurship course that should be of great interest to area citizens,” Virginia Western Community College President Robert Sandel said. “The course leader, Samantha Steidle, is a dynamic instructor, and the college is delighted to have her as coordinator of this program.”

Virginia Western’s standard tuition rates apply to the course, which can be taken for credit or not. The college’s Workforce Solutions center is handling non-credit enrollment.

“This program aims to help people help themselves in an economy that is challenging workers to become more entrepreneurial,” says Samantha Steidle, owner of the Business Lounge in downtown Roanoke.

The program is intended to be a launching pad for businesses in the Roanoke Valley. Twenty to 30 new businesses are expected to launch in the Roanoke Valley each semester as a result of the program.

The Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center and Virginia Department of Business Assistance are assisting with the program, and the Downtown Roanoke Inc. has pledged to help students, particularly as they look for spaces in which to open shop.

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VT KnowledgeWorks Presidents' Council Accepting New Members

Looking to build a better peer or entrepreneurial network? Consider applying to the VT KnowledgeWorks Presidents’ Council.

VT KnowledgeWorks offers Presidents’ Councils in Roanoke and Blacksburg. Presidents’ Councils are private networks of experienced executives working together to provide peer group mentoring. The groups meet at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center or at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

Since 1994, the Presidents’ Council has provided its members with the time, atmosphere, and structure to become more effective leaders. Through a time-tested and unique process of sharing with and learning from one another, the Presidents’ Council develops group synergy that facilitates significant self-discovery and professional growth. It is a serious, ongoing, mutual commitment to success, becomes your informal Advisory Board, strengthens your leadership skills and knowledge of best practices, and exposes you to a broad range of solid strategies to increase growth and minimize risk. 

VT KnowledgeWorks is now accepting new members into the Presidents’ Council. Contact Ken Ferris, Presidents’ Council Moderator, to discuss membership.

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships.  It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual.

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Aim of Roanoke's Startup Weekend is to Inspire Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and creative minds will be taking over Meridium in partnership with the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council for Startup Weekend on September 27-29 in Roanoke. Organizers and volunteers of Roanoke’s Startup Weekend have been working behind the scenes to ensure that this event provides not only inspiration, but the resources required for building and launching a company.

Whether you have a business idea or a skill that is necessary in building a successful startup, this event is one that aspiring entrepreneurs should not miss. Concept pitching and team building will take place on day one; teams will be formed around concepts and various skills that are brought to the table leaving the remainder of the weekend to mind mapping, strategizing and building a real business.

There will be knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs in attendance to inspire, share, and help the teams throughout the weekend. The final day teams will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges where real prizes and services can be won.

Startup Weekend Roanoke is an intense 54 hour event where a community of entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, developers, designers, marketing gurus and anyone interested in building a business will come together over the course of a weekend to share ideas, form teams, and launch a startup. No Talk, All Action. Launch a Startup in 54 hours.

About Startup Weekend
Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.

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Movie Showcases Young Entrepreneurs

Creating new business is not just for seasoned veterans.

You can learn from some great young entrepreneurs in upcoming screenings of The Startup Kids in Roanoke and Blacksburg, hosted by The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

The Startup Kids is a documentary about young web entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Europe. It contains interviews with the founders of Vimeo, Soundcloud, Kiip, InDinero, Dropbox, Foodspotting and many others who talk about how they started their company and their lives as an entrepreneur.

The RBTC regional premiere of The Startup Kids -- a must-see documentary about young entrepreneurs -- is coming in February. Join us for of networking and the premiere at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke on Feb. 21 or in Blacksburg on Feb. 19 at The Lyric Theater.

Register now to reserve your seat at one of the two showings.

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Grants Available for Agricultural, Forestry Economic Development

A new Virginia program that encourages localities to think strategically about how they can better support and integrate agriculture and forestry-based industries into their community’s overall economic development efforts is open.

The Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund includes money for planning grants of up to $20,000 for localities (or $35,000 for multijurisdictional applicants) to carry out some type of ag- and/or forestry-focused economic development planning or project implementation.

These AFID Planning Grants give local governments the flexibility to undertake the kind of planning, study, or local initiative they think best to grow and support agriculture and forestry-based businesses in their community and region. The planning grant program also provides a greater voice in local economic development to agriculture and forestry stakeholders by requiring that any grant funded program be implemented by a board, committee or working group representing agriculture and/or forestry interests in the locality.

The competitive grant program allows individual localities to apply for up to $20,000 in matching funds, or up to $35,000 for multi-jurisdictional applications, to undertake efforts that support their agriculture and forestry-based businesses. These efforts might include developing a strategic plan for agriculture and forestry economic development, creating new local policies and zoning ordinances that better support these industries, or funding feasibility studies and predevelopment work for new facilities that bring significant and lasting benefits to the local agriculture and forestry sectors.

The amount of an AFID Planning Grant and the terms under which it is given are determined by the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and approved by the Governor.  Factors used in determining grant awards and conditions include the project’s expected impact on the locality’s agriculture and forestry related industries, and the extent to which the effort will improve local capacity to support these industries’ development beyond the life of the grant.

  • To find out more about the grant program, check out the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer virtual application workshop Jan. 16 at 1:30 p.m.  The workshop will be a review of the program guidelines, application document and a chance for potential applicants to ask questions via conference call. To register, contact Stephen Versen, AFID Program Administer, at Stephen.Versen@vdacs.virginia.gov.
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Registration Open for Roanoke Labor and Employment Law Symposium

Stay on top of the changing labor and employment landscape.

Register today for Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore's Annual Labor & Employment Law Symposium in Roanoke on Monday, March 18, at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

The day-long event is designed with business executives, HR professionals, in-house counsel, and management personnel in mind to keep them up-to-date with ever-changing rules and challenges.

Darrell E. Graham, Director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Richmond office, is the symposium’s featured speaker.

Registration is open online with a discounted rate of $125 through Jan. 31. (The rate is $150 after Feb. 1.) Rates include parking, complimentary continental breakfast and lunch, and all materials. This program has also been pre-approved for 6.0 (general) credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

This year’s topics include:

  • What Does the Obama Re-election Mean for 2013? (Todd Leeson)
  • ADA & FMLA; Managing Employee Absences (Paul Klockenbrink)
  • Obamacare – 2014 is Knocking on the Door (Christen Church)
  • EEOC: New Initiatives (Guest Speaker Darrell E. Graham, EEOC)
  • Social Media/Technology (John Thomas)
  • The NLRB Comes Alive (Todd Leeson)
  • Hiring Employees (Lindsey Coley)
  • Whistleblowers, Internal Investigations & Retaliation Claims (David Paxton)

Need more information? Contact Symposium Administrator Ashley Fralin at 983-9382 or glrm@gentrylocke.com.

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