Grant to help region attract entrepreneurs

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

The Southside Business Technology Center in Danville is rebranding itself this fall as it focuses on bringing entrepreneurs into the region. In July, the technology center received a $10 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation (DRF) to fund an entrepreneurship initiative.

“In today’s global economy, regions have to create a new competitive advantage every day,” says DRF President and CEO Karl Stauber. “Southern Virginia is doing this but now we are taking it to the next level.”

The initiative focuses on diversifying the local economy by attracting and retaining serial entrepreneurs who create many new businesses over time. It also is an opportunity for many who grew up in the region to return home and create businesses.

The grant money will be disbursed over the next five years. The technology center will use $4 million to create a subsidiary, called the Seed Fund, while hiring a fund manager and a recruitment manager. The fund will invest in new businesses. “We will create an investment committee” to decide where the money will go, says Eva Doss, the center’s president and CEO.

Doss plans to recruit employees and have all preparatory work associated with the Seed Fund completed in the next three to four months. The technology center, now located in the Dan River Business Development Center, will move to downtown Danville during that time frame.

The technology center will work with the Danville Office of Economic Development, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and Blacksburg-based VT KnowledgeWorks, a business incubator connected with Virginia Tech. Services will include business consulting, seed fund management, mentoring/training, incubation services and entrepreneurial recruitment.

“We are growing into an organization which can provide all the services an entrepreneur needs in the seed and growth stages of its establishment,” Doss says.

Entrepreneurs in the Danville area and from outside the region are eligible for these services. “We are accepting business plans and applications for high-tech entrepreneurs,” Doss says. “The Seed Fund will make decisions about which companies to invest in.”

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