Nineteen potential new local business owners will present their plans Wednesday evening in a program that is open to the public.
The 19 are participants in The GAUNTLET, a program of The Advancement Foundation, whose website calls it Virginia’s largest business program. The program’s stated goal is to develop business knowledge, pair entrepreneurs with mentors and open up numerous resources for new and expanding businesses.
Earlier this year, Uptown Partnership (UP), with match funding from the City of Martinsville, received the governor’s Community Business Launch grant through a competitive process across Virginia. The purpose of the $90,000 grant is to multiply business development training and resources to enable new or existing businesses to accelerate growth and success through The Gauntlet Business Program and Competition, a press release states.
Out of an original 23 participants in the 10-week program, 19 have completed and turned in their business plans by April 12, said UP Executive Director Kathy Deacon. Those 19 will be recognized at the Community Recognition event on Wednesday at TAD Space, 20 E. Church St., Martinsville.
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The local GAUNTLET participants will have 1 minute each to showcase their local business ideas, beginning at 6 p.m. Refreshments also will be served from 6-7:30pm.
Those business plans already have been scored by three judges: Deacon, Derrick Ziglar Jr. and Tyler Carter of Carter B&T.
A majority of the 19 will present their pitches to The Advancement Foundation the first week of May in Vinton, Deacon said.
“The Advancement Foundation is looking at all the scores the business plans received, and they will apply some other criteria” to choose three to five winners who will split $75,000 in grant funding to start their businesses in uptown Martinsville, she said.
“The Advancement Foundation is running this for us,” she said.
The program graduation is May 25 in Vinton. The grant award winners will be announced then.
Sponsors include Carter Bank and Trust and The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Community partners are Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Patrick & Henry Community College, Longwood Small Business Development Center and SCORE.