CHARLOTTESVILLE'S RELAY FOODS RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM AFID AND CEDA
On June 30th, Governor McAuliffe visited Charlottesville's own Relay Foods to announce its selection as a recipient of a $50,000 grant given through the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Charlottesville and Relay Foods on this project. Along with the $50,000 given by the Commonwealth, the grant will be matched by the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA) for a combined total of $100,000.
The company, a leading online grocery store and farmers market, will invest more than $735,000 into the business and create 25 new jobs in the City. In an effort to deliver high quality foods and groceries, Relay Foods connects local farmers and artisans with customers in surrounding areas via its unique website (www.RelayFoods.com). Founded in Charlottesville in 2008, Relay Foods has since expanded north to Annapolis, Maryland and as far south as Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Receiving this grant will make continued expansion possible and will help to promote local farmers and businesses within the communities affected.
According to Governor McAuliffe, "We continue to realize the benefits of fully integrating agriculture and forestry into the state's strategic economic development platform. Relay Foods' announcement today not only creates quality new job opportunities for residents of Charlottesville, it strengthens the ties that this innovative and fast-growing company has to the Commonwealth. Supporting entrepreneurs with unique and exciting business models is another way for Virginia to grow and diversify our economy, especially with the variety of agricultural producers across the Commonwealth."
Speaking on behalf of Relay Foods, Zach Buckner, co-founder and CEO of Relay Foods, expressed thanks and reminded the audience of Relay Foods' mission, "At Relay Foods, our goal is to strengthen the local food economy in every community we serve, and we have been able to grow and thrive in Virginia based on our strong partnerships with producers across the state. We look forward to using this AFID grant to continue exploring innovative ways to connect our customers with the fresh and local foods produced by Virginia growers and artisans."
CITY BUSINESSES RECOGNIZED AT 2ND ANNUAL BBC AWARDS
June 19th marked the second annual Better Business Challenge awards ceremony, during which local businesses were honored for their dedication to environmental sustainability and efficiency. The event was held at the Paramount Theater by Better World Betty and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Over 100 people were in attendance.
Among those recognized were several City businesses enrolled in the Office of Economic Development's Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) grant program. Award winners included: Amazing Cleaning Service, which received a LEED-compliant backpack and green cleaning supplies; The Jacksons 2 Body and Soul Salon, which received an Energy Star purifier and programmable thermostat; and My Baby's Security, which was awarded reusable art, mealtime supplies, and safer sunscreen.
In receiving the award, Ernestine Mathews, owner and founder of My Baby's Security said, "I felt really, really honored." She went on to say how appreciative and thrilling winning the award was and that "It's not only me who won this award, but everyone who helped me get here did too."
Many other City businesses also received awards including:
- The Paramount Theater and Charlottesville Area Transit - Kilowatt Crackdown Award for the largest reduction in energy use
- Woodward Properties - Ripple Effect Winner for excellence in environmental stewardship
- ReThreads - Top Innovator for sustainable ingenuity
- Harvest Moon Catering - Green Leader for being a trailblazer in sustainable practices
- Rivanna Natural Designs, Vinegar Hill Café, M-Cam, Indoor Biotechnologies, and Relay Foods were also named 2014 Better Business Champions.
MEL'S CAFE RECEIVES CHUCK LEWIS PASSION AWARD
Forward/Adelante, Virginia's first bilingual business journal, hosted a celebration of business diversity on Tuesday, June 24th at the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville. The celebration honored Melvin Walker, owner of Mel's Cafe, with the third annual Chuck Lewis Passion Award. The award recognizes local businesses that contribute to the prosperity of the Charlottesville area.
The event kicked off with networking amongst 150 local business owners and community members in the lobby with drinks and catering by Charlottesville's own Chef Tony Polanco. The program transitioned to a formal, sit-down gathering in the Founder's Lounge where Grupo Caribe gave a festive salsa performance as the audience munched on Polanco's catering.
Charlottesville City Councilor, Kathy Galvin, gave the keynote address. She described the many qualifications Melvin Walker has demonstrated to earn the Chuck Lewis Passion Award. Throughout his career in the restaurant business, which started at the age of 9, Walker's tenacity sustained his family-owned business in the face of many trials and tribulations ranging from discrimination to having to close down Mel's Cafe in 1989 after initially opening in 1984. Galvin spoke to her own experiences growing up amid ethnic prejudice in Massachusetts as the daughter of first-generation American immigrants and as entrepreneurs. Walker's perseverance, Galvin continued, along with the quality of his work, has earned Mel's Café thriving business from a diverse clientele including blue-collar workers, white collar workers, tourists and academia.
Forward/Adelante bridges the language and culture gap to enable Spanish-speaking businesses to communicate with, and access the services and information offered by, English-speaking counterparts. For more information about Forward/Adelante, CLICK HERE.
CBIC HONORS TECHNOLOGY INNOVATORS AT ANNUAL GALA
On May 29th, over 240 people attended the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council's (CBIC) 16th Annual CBIC Awards Gala at Farmington Country Club. The event announced this year's seven award honorees. CBIC awards serve to recognize innovative achievements and leadership within the community. This year's winners were all City-based, with the exception of the Red Apple Award winner.
Dr. Karen Rheuban, Director of the Center for Telehealth for UVA Health System, won the People's Choice Navigator Award, a category that recognizes significant leadership in the local or regional entrepreneurial high tech community. The Rocket Award, given to an entity for rapid commercialization of a technology or product, was given VividCortex for bringing technical intelligence to information systems. The Spotlight Award went to Relay Foods for connecting local grocery shoppers with local food sources. The Breakthrough Award was given to PsiKick for their ultra-low power wireless sensors for batteryless chips.
The Tom Tom Founders Festival won the Community Award, for its annual celebration of music, art, and innovation. The Leadership Award was given to Jim Bain of Flying Dog Media for exemplary contributions to supporting and strengthening the organization. The Red Apple Award, given to a K-12 teacher for inspiring and preparing students to embrace the possibilities of technology, went to Michelle Karpovich, a Chemistry teacher at Western Albemarle High School.
YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASS WRAP-UP
The Office of Economic Development (OED), in partnership with Computers4Kids, hosted the second annual Start Your Own Business (SYOB) youth entrepreneurship class this summer. During the summer camp, students explored business basics and the steps involved in starting a business. This class served as a platform for students to understand the basics of entrepreneurship as they worked to launch their own business. During the week, the ideas and principles of business ownership were directly incorporated into students' personal business plans and ideas. Community business professionals volunteered each afternoon to help the students brainstorm business ideas and practice their business pitch.
On July 1st, at CitySpace, the students pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, consisting of Brian Wheeler, Executive Director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, Candice and Aaron Hark, co-owners of Maxient, and Waldo Jaquith, Director at the U.S. Open Data Institute. All participating students exceeded the presentation requirements and were awarded start-up funding to launch their business. The top three finishers received additional funding. A reception followed the pitch competition to celebrate the accomplishments of the class.
The students' enthusiasm increased throughout the week, which made this class very memorable for teachers Dolly Joseph, Computers4Kids, and Jason Ness, Office of Economic Development. "The Start Your Own Business camp continued to be a great experience," said Joseph. "The students worked hard and put a lot of effort into understanding the basics of business ownership. Throughout the week, the students became more familiar with business concepts and incorporating them into their own business plans."
The SYOB camp also helped the OED build a community network and promote business ownership as a possible career. "The opportunity to collaborate with Computers4Kids again continues to be a very rewarding experience for our office. One of the goals for the Office of Economic Development is to increase entrepreneurial opportunities for our community. Our Office's support and collaboration with this camp provides us the ability to accomplish that with a hands-on approach," said Jason Ness.
CITY MARKET DEVELOPMENT PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
The City Market and a significant downtown mixed-use development moved closer to fruition following a recent City Council action taken on June 16th. The Council voted unanimously to direct staff to proceed with negotiations to develop a contract for sale of City-owned property with the principals of the Market Plaza submission. Upon completion, the mixed-use building would feature 18,000 square feet of retail space, 58,000 square feet of commercial space, 67 apartment units, and public parking. The City Market would be held in a half-acre public plaza with enough space for 115 vendors. Given the complexity of the project it is not known at this time when an agreement will be reached. City Council approval of the final agreement will be required before the land sale can occur.
HEMOSHEAR RELOCATES TO FORMER MJH BUILDING
The year 2014 continues to be an exciting year for City- based bio-tech company HemoShear, which was founded in 2008 and has grown to 35 employees over the past six years. In the last few weeks, HemoShear has announced several exciting milestones. In fact, HemoShear was awarded funding by the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) for a public/private collaboration with the University of Virginia and George Mason University. This partnership will support cancer and tumor research and is supported by the National Cancer Institute. Including the most recent VBHRC award, HemoShear has received over $10 million dollars in federal and state funding for critical medical research since 2008.
Additionally, HemoShear just announced that it has secured $8.7 million dollars in private equity offerings. This influx of capital will allow HemoShear to continue its important research and discovery, and it demonstrates the confidence that private investors have in the growing company. Along with these two announcements, HemoShear's relocation into the new office space all showcases its growing role in the pharmaceutical research industry.
HemoShear is currently in the process of relocating all its equipment and current research in a well-planned move to the third floor of the former Cardwell Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital. The new, state-of-the-art facilities were designed by local architect Se Jin Kwak and constructed by Charlottesville-based construction firm CMS, Inc. According to Vice President of Operations, Nikki Hastings, "The advantages of moving to this new facility are very significant for the growth of HemoShear. We look forward to being in a great downtown location to leverage scaling opportunities and improve upon our operations. The transition will allow us to continue to perform cutting-edge scientific research with our pharmaceutical partners."
The City and Charlottesville Economic Development Authority assisted with the rapid transition of the entire hospital property through the creation of a performance agreement with the master developer.
CAVALIER PRODUCE ANNOUNCES PLANS TO EXPAND WHOLESALE OPERATIONS
After 13 years in business, Cavalier Produce recently announced plans to close its retail store, C'ville Market, at the end of May. While this news was greeted with sadness by their loyal customers, it has created an opportunity for Cavalier Produce to support other local businesses with fresh fruits, vegetables, and other kitchen staples through wholesale distribution.
Nationally, grocery store retailers find stiff competition, with average profit margins of 1% to 3%. Charlottesville has seen an increase in grocery stores over the last several years, making it more difficult for grocers to maintain sales.
Cavalier Produce management has plans to expand wholesale operations into the former C'ville Market space and has offered all C'ville Market employees the opportunity to move into roles within Cavalier Produce.
ACE PROGRAM INCREASES ENROLLMENT
The Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) Program continued its support of City businesses during the last quarter. Entering the final three months of the pilot, Office of Economic Development (OED) staff was able to grow enrollment to 11 businesses, exceeding the original projection of 10 businesses for fiscal year 2014. All of the currently enrolled businesses are at various stages of the program, and those businesses that have officially completed the program continue to make progress towards meeting their goals and projections.
The Jacksons II Body & Soul Salon and Evergreen Document Destruction and Recycling are two businesses participating in the program that showcase the potential impact of the ACE Program.
The Jackson II Body & Soul Salon's participation in the ACE program has had business owners, Tee Tee and Gail Jackson, examining their current sales figures and determining the best services to expand their business. Updated technology, including a new computer and credit card processing machine, has allowed the Jacksons to promote their business and track clients' needs and schedules. As part of the program, Jackson II is also receiving a new logo, brochure, and business cards that will help the owners better market their business in Charlottesville. According to the Jacksons, since the implementation of a new client management system and updated marketing strategies, there has been an extremely significant uptick in sales.
When Evergreen Document Destruction and Recycling enrolled in the program, it was apparent that there was an opportunity for Evergreen to make a larger name for itself in Central Virginia. After completing a business analysis and projecting outcomes and measures, owner Mike Kruse sought out the assistance of locally owned business, Gropen, Inc., to help spread the word of Evergreen. The professional sign company turned Evergreen's 30' shredding truck into mobile billboard by wrapping the truck in Evergreen logos and shredded paper graphics. Additionally, refining sales systems and tracking allowed Mike to be more efficient with general business tasks, which in turn has given him more time to expand his business opportunities.
For more information about the ACE Program, please CLICK HERE.
CITY TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
In continued efforts to support the Strategic Action Team's (SAT) work of exploring and addressing issues pertaining to employment challenges, the GO Ride program was created to provide City residents have to transportation. This program is a collaboration between members of the SAT, Charlottesville Transit (CAT), and numerous community-based workforce development agencies.
In 2012, the City of Charlottesville created the Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development. This intra-departmental group of City staff explored issues surrounding workforce development barriers within the City of Charlottesville. In July 2013, the SAT presented a comprehensive report entitled Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville to City Council. This report included an overview of the workforce climate in Charlottesville, barriers to employment for low-income City residents, and recommendations from the team on how these barriers can be addressed. In this report, the SAT recognized transportation as one of the major barriers to employment for low-income City residents, specifically recognizing issues associated with finding, maintaining, and succeeding with employment for Charlottesville residents seeking self-sufficiency.
The GO Ride program is a pilot program that offers a 90-day bus pass to community agencies that identify eligible participants for this program. Participants will receive fully subsidized CAT monthly passes, equivalent to at least 90 days. The 90-day timeframe will help participants search for a job, secure employment, and receive their first paycheck. Participants will be responsible for interacting with the community-based workforce development agency staff to provide progress updates and also to request additional monthly passes,within the 90-day time frame. SAT staff will serve as a liaison between the Workforce Development entity and accessing bus passes. For more information, please call 970-3110 or email GOride@charlottesville.org.
INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE WORKFORCE ADVISORY COUNCIL
The Workforce Advisory Council (WAC) held its inaugural meeting on Friday, February 10, 2014, the first of a series of quarterly meetings to develop strategies to grow training and employment opportunities for City residents that will help them move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Recommended by the Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) as part of a larger plan to address workforce issues in Charlottesville, the WAC serves in an advisory capacity to the City as it develops and implements its workforce development efforts and strategies. In order to improve collaborative efforts among City departments and workforce service providers, representatives from five City departments (including the Office of Economic Development), partnering educational institutions (including UVa and PVCC), workforce and economic development organizations, and private sector companies will serve two year terms on the WAC. The WAC's recommendations will be targeted towards addressing the seven major barriers to self-sufficiency established in the SAT's report Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville: job creation, basic literacy, workplace skills, transportation, childcare, criminal history, and housing.
CLEAN ENERGY COMMERCIAL LOAN PROGRAM LAUNCHES IN CVILLE
Local businesses can now take advantage of a new City of Charlottesville Clean Energy Commercial Loan Program launched earlier this month by UVA Community Credit Union, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), and the City of Charlottesville. A variety of projects are eligible for loans, including: lighting upgrades; energy audits; energy management controls; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; refrigeration and food service; duct sealing, insulation; water heaters, and renewables. For more information, CLICK HERE.
PLUGGEDINVA PILOT PROGRAM STARTS IN CVILLE
The PluggedInVA (PIVA) program began on January 6, 2014, with 8 students (5 City residents). Between January and May, the cohort of adults will take four courses through Piedmont Virginia Community College with an adult education seminar ongoing throughout. PIVA students will earn the National Professional Certification in Customer Service, an industry certification issued by the National Retail Federation, 9 college credits, Microsoft digital literacy certifications, and the Virginia Career Readiness Certificate. Throughout the program students will work to develop professional soft skills. Employers will interact with the cohort to provide specialized training in customer service, interviewing, diversity awareness, and other relevant workplace topics. PIVA will conclude with a student capstone project and presentation. Anticipated outcomes are continued postsecondary education or employment.
The PIVA program is being funded by the Virginia Department of Education Office of Adult Education & Literacy and the City of Charlottesville. The program was recommended for support in the City Strategic Action Team's report on workforce development that was presented
CFA INSTITUTE MOVES TO DOWNTOWN CVILLE
Twenty-seven months after ceasing operation as a hospital, the former Martha Jefferson Hospital facility has sprung back to life as the global operations center for CFA Institute's 400+ employees. CFA welcomed its employees to the downtown area in December, after wrapping up an extensive fourteen-month renovation.
The official opening of the building marked the end of the process that led CFA to relocating to downtown Charlottesville. The City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development partnered with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and former Governor Bob McDonnell's office to secure a grant to ensure this local business remained in the area. The ability to utilize the Governor's Opportunity Fund assisted CFA in consolidating several separate office buildings located within our region into one new home. The extensive renovation expects to receive LEED certification in the future.
The remaining two buildings on the former MJH campus are currently undergoing renovation for future commercial and residential use. Renovations in the Cardwell building are scheduled to be completed by mid-2014.