The three winners of the INOV8 Business Competition were announced on September 16, 2014 at a business appreciation event at the Academy of Fine Arts. CAO Artisan Chocolates, Endstation Theatre Company and Oxide Pottery will all receive a $10,000 cash grant to expand their businesses in Downtown Lynchburg.
Launched in April, INOV8 was sponsored by Lynch’s Landing Foundation, the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development and the Region 2000 Small Business Development Center. The program was primarily funded by a Downtown Improvement Grant from Virginia Main Street.
All applicants were required to attend various trainings and one-on-one consultations throughout the summer. At the end of the training period, applicants submitted a written business plan and marketing plan to support the business idea, product or service. On Tuesday, September 16, business applicants made a presentation to a panel of judges and winners were announced.
“This has been a truly outstanding program,” said Marjette Upshur. “The participants have been able to have meaningful discussions about what small businesses in Lynchburg need – access to capital, access to information, and access to services. Thank you so much to all of the businesses for their thoughtful and dedicated participation in this program.”
Mayor Michael Gillette presented the awards to the three grant recipients.
CAO Artisan Chocolates, owned and operated by Carl and Mary Matice, is a high end bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer with a retail location and an in-store “chocolate lounge.” Previously located in the Lynchburg Community Market, CAO moved to a permanent space at 908 Main Street and has seen a tremendous increase in gross revenues over the past year. With the grant, CAO will redesign their packaging to pursue wholesale and corporate retail sales accounts, anticipating a $50,000 increase in sales with new, more marketable packaging. http://www.caoartisanchocolates.com/
Endstation Theatre Company was founded in 2006 at Sweet Briar College with the mission to strengthen the community through theatrical exploration of people, landscape, and history. The company produces several shows per year, performed in theaters throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C. and has partnered with organizations to provide play-writing workshops for teenagers, career exploration workshops, and a series of Random Acts of Culture in area businesses. Endstation will use the grant to relocate to Downtown Lynchburg and renovate a small office and theatre space. Having a physical location in the downtown area will allow for a greater diversity in their audience, which they feel is important to reflect the community they serve. http://endstationtheatre.org/
Oxide Pottery is a ceramic production studio and retail storefront located at 1337 Main Street and has been in operation for five years. In addition to retail items, Oxide has a wholesale line produced locally and shipped to 36 galleries and museums in 21 states. The grant will support Oxide’s efforts to to expand their wholesale line to reach new accounts and customers and to add an electric kiln for greater production volume. http://www.oxidepottery.com/
Visit the Opportunity Lynchburg Facebook page for more images from the evening’s presentations.
Grants will be reimbursable to businesses that provide appropriate documentation for their expenses. In addition to the cash prize, three media partners will provide marketing support. Life Focus Pictures will produce a 20-second commercial, WSET-TV will provide air-time, and Live Stream Lynchburg will provide radio and online video to the three business winners.
About the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development and Economic Development Authority
The Lynchburg Office of Economic Development, or LOED, is the City of Lynchburg’s economic development agency. With decades of combined experience, LOED staff leads business retention, expansion and new business development initiatives for the City. The Lynchburg Economic Development Authority, or LEDA, is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia and serves as the incentive arm of the City of Lynchburg. LEDA actively pursues investment and development opportunities, and elevates the economic development profile of the City. Learn more at www.opportunitylynchburg.com.
About Lynch’s Landing Foundation
Lynch’s Landing is Lynchburg’s leader for downtown revitalization. Lynch’s Landing is a non-profit volunteer and membership organization dedicated to the development and revitalization of downtown Lynchburg. The mission of the organization is to identify opportunities and develop resources that position and sustain downtown and the riverfront as a vital economic, cultural, historic, recreational and residential center for our community. Learn more at www.downtownlynchburg.com.
About the Region 2000 Small Business Development Center
The Region 2000 SBDC is an effective provider of customized counseling and education for small businesses in the region. Businesses can meet in private with a certified business analyst to discuss your specific issues or attend small-group trainings for in-depth presentations on critical management topics. The Region 2000 Small Business Development Center serves the City of Lynchburg, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell Counties in Virginia. It is located at Central Virginia Community College is a member of the Virginia SBDC Network and is partially funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Learn more at www.region2000sbdc.com.