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Cultivating Entrepreneurship

Hosted by the SBDC Southwest Region, Cultivating Entrepreneurship in Southwest Virginia is THE conference for small business owners and those thinking about starting a small business. Learn from industry experts, identify new growth strategies and network to build important new business relationships at this FREE event.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13: Funding for Early Stage Life Science & Biotech firms at NIH and Beyond This session will have an expert speaker present overviews of federal R&D funding available for Life Science/Biotech researchers and companies, as well intro’s to VIPC’s SBIR support and Commonwealth Commercialization Fund ($75K Grants). Finally, a short intro to the Virginia Innovation Commercialization Program (ICAP) that provides high level mentoring and customer discovery services to Virginia’s entrepreneurial community. Networking and Capital Connection Join us for a chance to network with representatives of agencies and organizations that can assist the small business owner with exploring various avenues available to access capital. Owners of small businesses in any industry or anyone thinking of starting a small business are welcome.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14: Keynote: How Entrepreneurship Builds Future-Ready Regions Entrepreneurs and small businesses that support each other provide a natural growth to the community’s ecosystem. Learn how small businesses can support each other in entrepreneurial growth. Growing entrepreneurial ventures not only creates jobs, but also enhances the local quality of life. As we recover from the pandemic and the Great Recession, our future prosperity will depend on one key ingredient: talent! Places that succeed in developing, retaining, and attracting talent are best positioned to thrive. In addition to breakout sessions on Labor, Doing Business with the Government, Marketing, Selling through Amazon, Taxation, Credit Counseling Resources and Tourism Resources, the conference will feature Erik R. Pages as the keynote speaker. Special Session with Erik Pages: What’s Next – Building the Ecosystem Building an entrepreneur-friendly and future-ready region depends on a robust entrepreneur ecosystem, i.e., the mix of resources, culture, and capacities to help local people start and grow new ventures. In this session, we’ll discuss how to nurture these ingredients and build key capacities in areas such as capital access, business training, education, and investing in innovation. How can entrepreneurs and community leaders build a region that supports entrepreneurs, attracts talent, and nurtures new generations of entrepreneurs and innovators? This session is tailored to economic development organizations and professionals, chambers of commerce, banks, and other small business support organizations.

To register follow the links below:

September 13th

Funding for Early Stages, Networking and Capital Connection (

September 14th

VCEDA SEED CAPITAL Fall 2022 - Revised 6-30-2022

It’s almost that time again – VECDA Fall round is here. 

For application and more information complete the Request for Counseling link.

Entrepreneur Express Workshop

Get connected to resources and services to launch and grow a business in Southwest Virginia. Turn that idea into a business.

-Business Planning
-IT/Technology Resources

Latest News

The demise of the COVID EIDL program and lack of Congressional desire to re-fund RRF and other initiatives means that for small business owners, more traditional grants are the only remaining source for “free” money. The following includes some of the grant sources that continue to operate in the post-COVID funding space:

Grant Search Sources: ( this is a federal database that provides details on all federal government grant opportunities ( this website also offers information on federal grant opportunities

OpenGrants: ( a very comprehensive data set of public and private grants in the US

GrantWatch: ( this is a subscription-based site that provides information on public and private grant sources. They have a database of over 25,000 grants

Federal Grant Programs:

SBIR grants: ( this program focuses on technology with the potential for commercialization

STTR grants: ( program expands funding for innovative research and the development of leveraging existing technology DoD grants: ( this program is a sub-set of the STTR funding initiative

DOE grants: ( offered via both SBIR and STTR programs NIH grants: ( these grants are for businesses developing and researching biomedical technology

DOJ grants: ( these fund projects that support law enforcement, public safety activities, and the criminal justice system

DOI grants: ( grants are offered via several departments, all related to interior department initiatives

DOA grants: ( grants are offered via the Department of Agriculture to create quality jobs and those that provide needed services in rural areas

NIFA grants: ( The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), are offered only to non-profits and larger businesses

STEP grants: these are offered to small businesses engaged in exporting, and interested parties should check with the SBA’s Office of International Trade for details

Private Grants: FEDEX Small Business Grants: ( this program has been in operation almost a decade and includes applicants nationwide. The top prize is $50,000 and $4,000 in FEDEX Office services, as well as smaller amounts of $20,000 and $1,500 in FEDEX Office services. The program runs annually National Association for the Self-employed (NASE) Growth Grants: ( these grants are intended for members that want to grow their business, and they offer $4,000 and the awarded funds can be used for a wide range of business activities

The Streetshares Foundation Veteran Business Grant: ( these grants are open to veterans, active-duty, or spouses, and awardees can receive up to $15,000, and are based on the idea, expected use of funds, product-market fit, team, and the impact the business will have on the veteran or military community

NAV grants: ( offers quarterly grants of $10,000 to help solve a business problem or take applicant’s business to the next level

Caleb Brown Urban Entrepreneur’s Community Grant: ( focuses on funding young urban entrepreneurs that want to rebuild local underserved communities by providing training and jobs. Awards are $1,000 and are issued monthly eBay

Up & Running grants: ( funding of $10,000 is granted to 50 awardees nationally in cash, coaching, and eBay education.

Grants for Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Businesses:

The Galaxy grant: offered by Hidden Star, a Texas-based 501(3)(C), and offer up to $2,900 to women and minority-owned businesses

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses: grants range from $5,000 – $25,000, and distribute the smaller awards in the fall, with the larger awards being offered during the summer. In addition to cash awards, the program is planning to offer other support services and training worth over $14 million over a 4-year timespan. The business must be in an economically-vulnerable community verified via the “Distressed Communities Index”

The Girlboss Foundation grant: these awards are for $15,000 and are geared towards firms that will create innovations in design, music, arts, and fashion industries. Awards are made 2X per year

Kitty Fund grant: these are micro-grants of $500 with awards intended to help mothers grow their businesses, and they must have at least 2 employees

Amber grant: these range from $4,000 – $30,000 per award, and awards are made monthly. In addition, they offer “year-end” grants of $25,000. Applicant businesses must be women-owned, and owners must be able to explain how the business will use the funds

It should be noted that some localities and local organizations also provide grants, so interested parties may want to check with local resources for these opportunities. Also, this is not an all-inclusive list of grants that may be available but is intended to be representative of different options for small businesses seeking grant funding. Furthermore, it should be noted that these programs are generally not intended to fund start-up businesses, and many are focused on specific industries that require a significant level of expertise on the part of the applicant company’s owners


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Becki O’Quinn, SBDC Director
276-523-9454 or 276-254-2816
Wendy Dillon

Need a space to start your business or meeting space?

The Pioneer Center

Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) The Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located at Mountain Empire Community College offers free business consulting, affordable training courses, personal referrals to local resources, guidance, insights, and connections to help businesses succeed. The Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Does your business need assistance? Services are confidential and there is no charge for counseling services.  Let us help you save time with your business projects MECC\’s Small Business Development Center provides the following services:

  • Management Skills 

  • Business Information 

  • Business Planning 

  • Productivity Improvement 

  • Workshops 

  • Networking Assistance 

  • Loan Application Assistance 

  • Sources of business financing 

  • Financial Analysis 

  • Marketing 

  • Permits, licenses and taxes 

Don’t know where to get started? Click here to request counseling.

US Inflation Report March 2022
The US inflation rate in March hit a level not seen since 1981, when Ronald Regan entered the White House. The primary driver was the unabated rise in energy costs. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 7.9% thru February, the fastest pace of annual inflation in 40 years. In addition to the spike in energy costs, supply chain issues continued to haunt the economy, along with higher demand for scarce goods and services. Furthermore, the Russian invasion of Ukraine further exacerbated cost spikes in the cost of oil, natural gas, wheat, and other commodities that emanated from that region. Ukraine is one of the largest suppliers of wheat in the world (8% of total production worldwide) and the war has disrupted much of that supply.

SBDC Updates

MountainEmpire SBDC
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The Virginia SBDC Network provides confidential advising, business training and connections to resources for new and existing businesses throughout the Commonwealth. The SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University, and local host institutions. The Virginia SBDC is nationally accredited by accredited by America’s SBDC. Business owners can access the services of their nearest SBDC at