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SoBo Start-Up kickoff draws strong interest

South Boston News
Lin Hite, center, of the Longwood Small Business Center talks with several guests at the SoBo Start-Up event held at the Southern Virginia High Ed Center on Thursday evening. / January 16, 2017
The kickoff event for SoBo Start-Up, a training program for budding entrepreneurs, drew an encouraging response as a dozen would-be business owners turned out Thursday night at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

The program participants received encouragement from local business owners and others who came to hear what the program can do to bolster Downtown South Boston.

“We were thrilled at the turnout of 50 people for the event,” said Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, which sponsors the Start-Up program.

She noted that 12 applications were filled out and turned in by prospective business owners during the 90-minute session.

South Boston town manager Tom Raab welcomed those who turned out at the SVHEC, noting that the Town of South Boston will offer its support to new or expanded businesses that take part in the six-week “boot camp” seminars. The seminars will be led by Lin Hite of the Longwood Small Business Center.

Raab told those present that Hite will be able to guide them along a path to start a successful business.

Entrepreneurs will attend the six classes beginning on Tuesday, March 7 and ending in mid-April. The grant-funded program aims to comprehensively prepare them to operate a successful business in Downtown South Boston.

Ernie Maddy, coordinator of the Community Business Launch of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the funding agency, told those present that the program started six years ago and over that period he has seen 60 new businesses started in the Commonwealth.

“It’s been a great program in getting new businesses started,” Maddy told the crowd.

Destination Downtown South Boston was one of only six communities chosen to participate in this year’s program.

Vest noted that “small business is an indispensable ingredient for our community to survive. This competition is all about finding and fostering entrepreneurs that connect with our community’s small business development strategy and vision.”

Vest said she hopes to see at least three new businesses landed in the town which will produce at least five new jobs.

The program will end with a “pitch night” at which participating entrepreneurs will give brief presentations of their business and plan for moving forward. Winners will be chosen to receive grants and in-kind support for the launch or expansion of their business.

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