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Virginia Western Hosts 'Transcript Fair'

Do you know what credits you need to transfer from Virginia Western Community College to another state program?

Virginia Western is hosting a “Transcript Fair," which is an opportunity to receive an informal estimate of what college credits may apply to complete a college program partner colleges such as Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, and Radford University.  

The fair is scheduled for July 30 from 4-7 p.m.

At the same time and place, we will have an open house for the Virginia Western Workforce Solutions, which provides intensive training programs leading to industry recognized credentials.

Contact Deb Squire, career transition coach at Virginia Western Community College, for more information at 540-857-6296.

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Get Your Start-Up Off the Ground

UPDATE: Event rescheduled to June 18

If you've been looking to get your start-up off the ground, now is the time. The Startup Readiness Workshop is an effort from VTKnowledgeWorks and CoLab to help you test the strategic essence of your business concept, tighten your managerial focus and review the start-up process.

The workshop is Thursday, June 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. at CoLab on Grandin Road in Roanoke. Registration is open and the event is free to attend. The workshop is designed for anyone who is considering the launch of a new product or business, from inventors to researchers to web professionals to those looking to start a new career.

Here's a little more about what you can expect to learn:

  • Four fundamental factors that govern startup success
  • Strategic essence of every successful business
  • Five powerful habits used by good managers
  • Power of full commitment
  • How money really moves around
  • MOXIE secrets (what it is, why you need it, and where it comes from)

So what are you waiting for? Take the time for this half day session to get your business ready for launch. Need more information? Contact

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Governor Signs Legislation in Roanoke to Make Crowdfunding Easier

The Grandin CoLab was a flurry of activity Thursday afternoon as Gov. Terry McAuliffe stopped by to get a look at the building and sign into law new legislation designed to make crowdfunding easier for Virginians.

McAuliffe touted his business accomplishments since becoming governor and said the legislation is one more way to diversify the state’s economy. He also said he believed it will generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Crowdfunding, which involves raising small amounts of money from many investors, is mostly done online. Organizations such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have become ubiquitous among tech startups and new small businesses as a means to raise money through online solicitation. For the most part the small investments are treated like donations, and in return investors may get some of the product being sold or another type of gift. Investors are not allowed to buy a share of stock and have a stake in the company. That’s about to change.

Federal legislation was passed in 2012 that allows startups and small businesses to use crowdfunding to raise money and provide unaccredited investors with a stake of the company in return. But implementation has been slow and it won’t be enacted until it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. So states across the country have been adopting their own similar laws.

Virginia became the latest to do that Thursday. The commonwealth is one of about 34 states that have enacted this type of law or are in the process of doing so, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association.

The new law allows Virginia businesses that want to provide equity shares to raise up to $2 million per venture and up to $10,000 from unaccredited Virginia investors. The State Corporation Commission will regulate the new crowdfunding rules in order to prevent fraud

To read the full story visit the Roanoke Times.


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Roanoke: Top Market for Starting a Business

Roanoke was ranked among the top markets for starting a new business by the site  Ranked 22nd out of 183 metro markets considered, Roanoke was the top market in the state of Virginia.  

The ranking was based off of performance in several business and economic metrics.  Approximately 60 percent of the score was based on the business environment including average business revenue, the percentage of business with paid employees, and the number of businesses per 100 people.  Around 40 percent of the score was based on overall economic conditions and included median annual income, median annual housing cost, and the unemployment rate.
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Virginia Small Business Financing Authority Receives Additional $6.1 Million from US Treasury

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA), a division of the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (DSBSD), has secured an additional $6.1 million to help Virginia’s banks lend more to small businesses.  Through a third disbursement from the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), the funds will be put to work to help spur more small business lending. 


Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “To build the new Virginia economy, we must continue to help Virginia’s small businesses grow.  The growth and success of Virginia’s small businesses are integral parts of my economic development strategy, and I am proud of the work the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority and Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology are doing to achieve that important goal.  These new funds will support the Commonwealth’s businesses and help them create even more jobs for Virginians.”


“Small businesses are the nation’s leading job creators, and the State Small Business Credit Initiative continues to help connect sources of capital to the small businesses that need it,” said Sarah Bloom Raskin, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department.  “The funds announced today will support loans and investments so that Virginia’s small businesses can be positioned to play a vibrant role in the local economy.”


“Credit enhancement programs like the ones offered by the VSBFA are very effective tools in helping our efforts to diversify the Virginia economy and catalyze more growth in the private sector,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “As we strive to seek more balance in Virginia’s economy, fostering a more entrepreneurial ecosystem through tools such as these is vital to Virginia’s economic health.”


The funds will also be used to increase investments in small technology companies through Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). Popular programs such as the VSBFA’s Cash Collateral Program, Capital Access Program, and the Economic Development Loan Fund, will be available to more businesses as a result of this funding.  In addition, the VSBFA will use some of the funds to continue its partnership with Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) to enhance CIT’s GAP Fund which is designed to assist Virginia entrepreneurs in Virginia-based technology, clean tech and life science companies.


Since the beginning of the McAuliffe Administration, the VSBFA has partnered with Virginia’s banks and equity providers to extend over $46 million in loans and equity investments to Virginia businesses and these businesses have created and retained 1,763 jobs.


“Working hand in hand with strong strategic partners like the U.S. Treasury’s SSBCI, CIT, the Virginia banking community, Virginia’s small business development centers, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, we have been able to help Virginia’s small businesses expand and hire new employees”, said Gail Letts, Board Chairman of the VSBFA.  “This latest round of funding will build on past successes, provide entrepreneurs and small business owners access to new sources of capital for many years to come, and enhance Virginia’s reputation as one of the best states for business.”


The VSBFA was created in 1984 and is an important tool in providing the necessary capital to help the Commonwealth’s small business sector grow. Created in 1985, The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a non-profit corporation, plugs gaps at the earliest stages of the Innovation Continuum – commercialization and seed funding – as it helps entrepreneurs launch and grow high-growth technology companies and create high-paying jobs for the future. More information about the VSBFA and CIT can be found on their respective websites. For VSBFA: . For CIT:



The mission and vision of the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (DSBSD) is to promote economic growth by helping Virginian’s prosper. The agency works with public and private entities to aggressively pursue supplier diversity and inclusion by creating contracting opportunities and promoting fairness in the state’s procurement processes for Small, Women and Minority Owned businesses.  The agency is the Commonwealth’s one stop vehicle to provide access to business resources and maximize the potential for success while building business capacity and facilitating capital solutions to fund business development and expansion. DSBSD has a repository of information that supports business formation and growth of SWaM businesses with the ultimate results of job and wealth creation in the new Virginia economy.



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VT KnowledgeWorks Announces $25,000 Challenge

VT KnowledgeWorks is pleased to announce the Game Changers Challenge, an opportunity for one entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team to 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  The deadline for the spring 2015 application submissions is May 8, 2015.  Applications should be submitted to  The selection committee will review applications and VT KnowledgeWorks will communicate with applicants shortly thereafter.  Awards will be announced in June.
For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at  Read about it on our blog at
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Star Tank Expands Program, Adds May "Tip-Off" Event

Think you have the next big thing? Roanoke Star Tank wants to help you get it off the ground.

Star Tank has announced a new event: the Star Tank Tip-Off on May 14, 2015 in the Grandin CoLab. Star Tank will keep their main event in November, which is a local version of the ABC show "Shark Tank" in which entrepreneurs pitch their product or idea to investors, who then have the opportunity to invest. 

The new Tip-Off program aims to fill in the gaps between marquee Star Tank events in the fall. The Tip-Off will focus on business development by allowing start-ups, inventors, and entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their pitch and receive feedback. 

If you are interested in participating in the Tip-Off, register onlin at >>>

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ScaleUp Roanoke Looking to Help Small Businesses

Roanoke has been selected as one of eight locations for the ScaleUp, a federally funded initiative orchestrated by the Small Business Association. The program assists small business owners grow through training, strategy, and consulting sessions. 

The first round of ScaleUp Roanoke is underway, but the program will host a second round to begin in April of this year. 

To be elegible, businesses must have been established for at least two years and have revenues of $150,000 to $750,000.

This article from the Roanoke Times has more details on how ScaleUp Roanoke is affecting real businesses in the area.

Find more information and learn how to get involved >>>

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Pitch Your Idea at Big Lick Soup Funding Event

If you have a business idea you want to get off the ground, another micro-funding event is taking place in Roanoke in February.

The Big Lick Soup event will take place on February 26, from 6-8 p.m. at 16 West Marketplace. Finalists will pitch their civic-minded ideas to be voted on by those in attendance. 

Anyone interested in pitching their idea to make Roanoke a better, more interesting place to live can apply by outlining their plan on the Big Lick Soup Facebook page. The deadline to apply is February 9. 

Find out more via the Roanoke Star >>>

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Virginia Hosting $1 Million Business Plan Contest

If you have an idea for a business plan, Virginia wants to hear from you, and it could earn you $1 million.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced one of the largest business plan competitions in the nation, with $1 million in prizes for the winners. The competition will take place during the spring and summer of 2015 and is focused on the strategic growth sectors of Agriculture, Bio-Life Sciences, Cybersecurity, and Social Entrepreneurism. 

The competition is part of the governor's efforts to create a "new Virginia economy" through generating more startup enterprises in the Commonwealth.

“Hosting this world-class business plan competition in Virginia is another step forward in our efforts to create a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe in a statement.  “It is through growth in these important sectors that we will see economic benefits in our rural communities and across the Commonwealth.  This competition is one piece of my administration’s efforts to systematically generate more startup enterprises in Virginia, especially in Virginia’s key growth sectors.” 

Read the full press release with more details on the competition >>>

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