The competition graduates 15 businesses and awards $35,000 to top performers
The My Southwest Virginia Opportunity Cup, led by the collaborative My Southwest Virginia Opportunity effort, came to a close on Nov. 4, 2015 with an awards ceremony and announcement of winners in the regional business competition. Entrepreneurs and citizens from across the region gathered at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway to watch the awards presentation and congratulate the winners and participants of the first ever My Southwest Virginia Opportunity Cup.
My Southwest Virginia Opportunity was pleased to present Brett and Jill Wolfe, owners of Wolfe’s BBQ Restaurant & Catering in Marion, VA with the first place award of $20,000. Established in July 2013, Wolfe’s BBQ is a full service restaurant and catering service that specializes in smoked meats, but offers a variety of additional dining options as well. The company has plans to expand with a mobile food unit that will offer authentic central Texas style barbeque and “will serve more BBQ to more people in more locations!”
The second place award of $10,000 was presented to Eva and Mike Beaule, owners of Adventure Mendota. Located on the North Fork of the Holston River in Mendota, VA, Adventure Mendota is a paddle sports river outfitter, which offers rental services to include recreational kayaking, tubing, and shuttle services for customers with their own kayaks. The seasonal business’s expansion plans center around increasing their days of operation and adding an upriver kayaking trip.
Toni Warren with Warren Cleaning and Restoration in Big Stone Gap, VA was presented with the third place award of $5,000. Established in 2013, Warren Cleaning & Restoration is a family owned company that provides carpet cleaning and disaster restoration services for commercial and residential customers. Initial expansion plans include increasing staff to enhance customer service and job turnaround time, as well as investing in a larger office and warehouse space.
Modeled after the 2013 My Southwest Virginia Opportunity Entrepreneur Challenge, the Cup was a level II entrepreneur challenge for existing businesses looking to expand with additional job creation in Southwest Virginia. Given the number of new local competitions since 2013, the Cup accepted businesses in Southwest Virginia who graduated from qualifying regional business challenges in Planning District Commissions 1, 2 and 3.The competition began on Sept. 15 when nineteen small business owners and entrepreneurs met at the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator to take the challenge of competing in a six week training process of refining their business plans in an effort to win a total of $35,000 in business investment grants. On Oct. 20, 2015 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, fifteen of those businesses completed the program by submitting a business expansion plan and pitching their business to a panel of judges. Throughout the process competitors learned valuable information for successfully expanding their business including topics on marketing and research, financial and legal, human resources and leadership strategies. In addition, participants benefited from connecting with regional businesses, mentors and resources.
The Cup recognizes fifteen businesses that completed the program: Adventure Mendota; Born Free Farm; Cliffhanger Ranch Adventure Outpost; Clinch River Adventures; Crooked Road General Store; Down to Earth Academy; Dreamland Alpacas; J&N Tool and Supply; Kohi Café; Sugar Hill Brewing Company; Sweet Works; The Collins House Inn; Warren Cleaning and Restoration; White Birch Juice; and Wolfe’s BBQ Restaurant & Catering.
My Southwest Virginia Opportunity hosted the competition through a Building Collaborative Communities Grant awarded by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition, the Cup was sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Virginia Community Capital, Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Bland County Economic Development Authority and the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator.
For more information on the My Southwest Virginia Opportunity Cup, the entrepreneurial efforts underway in the region, or to connect with some of the region’s many resources for business support, contact Robyn Lee at (276) 254-2396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.