Today the Town of Pulaski and its partners officially announce Launch Something Pulaski, a downtown economic revitalization project aimed at supporting new business formation and expansion in the downtown businesses district and beyond. Multiple national studies show that on a per dollar basis local eateries return twice as much revenue to our local economy. Independent retailers return more than three times as much money compared to national chains. Launch Something Pulaski represents an initial investment of $120,000 in state, local, and private resources to support local commerce’s multiplier effect.
All across Southwest Virginia communities like Pulaski are using similar strategies to renew their down towns and cultivate rural entrepreneurship. Through a highly competitive and rigorous process, Launch Something Pulaski will award more than $70,000 in cash and in-kind prize packages to 3 or more of the most promising new businesses.
Beginning February 1st interested entrepreneurs can apply to compete at launchsomethingpulaski.com. Both startups and existing businesses expanding significantly by launching a new product or service or opening an additional location are eligible. Applicants will be screened and accepted based on the merit of their idea, potential to meet a documented market need, relevant experience, potential to secure all necessary capital, and readiness to open no later than September 30, 2016.
Fifteen to twenty applicants will be selected. Selected applicants will be announced at a Kickoff Luncheon planned for Thursday, March 4th. They must complete an 8-week entrepreneurship course during which time they’ll craft a polished business plan. The mandatory class will be held Wednesday nights from March 9th – April 27th. All completed business plans will be reviewed and scored by a panel of independent judges.
In early to mid-May a public expo and Pitch Night will be held. Each entrepreneur who completes the course and a plan will be invited to Pitch Night. They will develop a public demo booth and present a 5-minute pitch before a panel of judges. Winners will be selected based on the combined scores of their plans, demo, and pitches. They will be announced at a late May to early June awards dinner. Other in-kind prizes and micro loan financing totaling $75,000 will be made available to qualified winners and those receiving honorable mention.
Launch Something Pulaski has set a goal to raise an additional $30,000 in cash and in-kind support through sponsorship, volunteer, and giving opportunities. More information on how to join the effort will be available at launchsomethingpulaski.com. The site goes live by 12 pm, Monday, February 1st. The Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce will host a Coffee Hour information session on February 9th, 7:30 – 9 am at the Jackson Park Inn.
The project is made possible with principal funding through a competitive grant award of $60,000 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Business Launch (CBL) program. The CBL program starts with a community’s unique vision for its future and then uses a local business competition to find and foster the entrepreneurs that connect with that vision. CBL provides the tools to effectively prepare multiple entrepreneurs to operate successful businesses in a downtown or neighborhood commercial district and allow them to compete for funding to launch their new endeavor.
The Community Foundation of the New River Valley has provided further programmatic grant support to Beans and Rice, Inc. as the lead agency. In-kind prizes have been pledged in the form of lease concessions by local commercial property owners (Allen Properties, Gem City Management, LLC, and Holly Lane, LLC), media outlets such as The Pulaski County Patriot and Southwest Times, financial services from Wells Fargo, utility and business fee reductions from the Town of Pulaski, and membership benefits from Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Pulaski Alliance.
Primary project partners include the Town of Pulaski, Pulaski County, Beans and Rice, Inc., Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Pulaski Alliance. Additional regional partners include the NRV Regional Commission, Town of Floyd Economic Development Department, and VT KnowledgeWorks.