A grant application from Startup Shenandoah Valley Program (S2V) has been approved by Go Virginia.

The investment, which totals more than $1 million, aims to benefit entrepreneurs across the region, according to a press release from the Staunton Creative Community Fund. It will help fund virtual acceleration programming, infrastructure buildout and ecosystem builders across the region.

S2V will be a part of the greater Shenandoah Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is “a unique rural region with multiple budding hubs throughout the area,” the release states, pointing to examples of hubs in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington and Waynesboro — “each at different levels of development.”

“Each hub, either itself or within the immediate surrounding area, has strong traded sector diversification, supportive institutions of higher education, and various existing entrepreneurial assets,” the release states. “Startup Shenandoah Valley is a virtual acceleration program that will target entrepreneurs with scalable business ideas, particularly those focused on Region 8’s traded sectors of food processing, light manufacturing, information technology, cybersecurity, and biomedical and biotechnical.”

The grant will additionally support dedicated workspace and entrepreneurial infrastructure throughout the region. It will also allow for the hiring of two dedicated ecosystem builders to support the network and programming.

S2V will address three of the four priority actions highlighted by a consulting report for Region 8, which consists of the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, Winchester; and the counties of Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren. The action items include: support advancement of integrated accelerators-incubators-coworking entrepreneurial hubs across the region; leverage and support engagement of college and university business schools and professional service providers to assist startup companies from ideation through growth and scale-up; and catalyze follow-up venture funding to go beyond initial risk capital sources in the region.

“We are thrilled to receive this state grant award to strengthen our entrepreneurs’ opportunities to build vibrant and sustainable new ventures in the Valley,” said Mary Lou Bourne, executive director of James Madison Innovations and Chair of GO VA Region8 Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Advisory Committee. “Through collaboration with leaders in our business and economic development organizations as well as higher education partners, we developed a vision for helping entrepreneurs be successful in rural regions. I am grateful to all who participated to create and support this vision, and particularly to the Staunton Creative Community Fund as the non-profit entity and applicant positioned to execute the acceleration program and network infrastructure across the Valley.”

GO Virginia, which is the state’s initiative for growth and opportunity, is a business-led initiative that was formed to foster private-sector growth and diversification across nine economic development regions in Virginia.

For more information visit stauntonfund.org/

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