Partner Resources

Appalachian Regional Commission

ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

Economic Development Administration

The U.S.E.D.A’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

Just Transition Fund

The Just Transition Fund is dedicated to helping coal-affected communities build strong, resilient, and diversified new energy economies.

Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission

The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s goal is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement.

Virginia Tourism Corporation

The Virginia Tourism Authority promotes and develops the tourism and motion picture industries to stimulate Virginia’s economy and enhance the quality of life of all Virginians.


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Ag & Forestry Industries Development Planning Grants

These AFID Planning Grants give local governments the flexibility to undertake the kind of planning, study, or local initiative they think best to grow and support agriculture and forestry-based businesses in their community and region.  The planning grant program also provides a greater voice in local economic development to agriculture and forestry stakeholders by requiring that any grant funded program be implemented by a board, committee or working group representing agriculture and/or forestry interests in the affected locality.  For additional information about the program and the application workshops, e-mail Stephen Versen, AFID program contact at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) at

Appalachian Regional Commission

The focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is fostering economic development and improving the quality of life for Appalachian citizens. The ARC provides assistance in the long-term development of a chronically-depressed region, which encompasses 25 counties and eight independent cities in Virginia.

ARC funding is directed to projects that include water and sewer service to communities, workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, regional economic restructuring efforts and heritage and cultural tourism. Other funds seek to build a strong and sustainable asset-based economy, bringing jobs and prosperity to Appalachian communities while preserving their character. Projects which address the leveraging of cultural assets, natural assets, community assets, structural assets and business and economic assets are eligible for funding, as are energy efficiency improvements as a part of an eligible project. The Virginia ARC program may also be available to help with the development of an access road to support the location or expansion of an industry.

Building Collaborative Communities Grant (BCC)

Building Collaborative Communities is designed to assist regions in creating and sustaining new economic opportunities across Virginia. The program promotes regional economic collaborations in economically-distressed areas to stimulate job creation, economic development and build community capacity and leadership.

Building Collaborative Communities is a broad-based program that that provides the financial and technical resources from a number of state entities. By working collaboratively, regions are able to capitalize upon the regional place based assets that create appealing and unique communities where people want to live and work.

Building Entrepreneurial Economies Grant (BEE)

Building Entrepreneurial Economies is the next evolution of Virginia’s commitment to micro-entrepreneurship. Formerly known as Virginia Enterprise Initiative (VEI), BEE is taking a more local approach to developing stronger businesses that help build stronger communities.

BEE provides grants and technical assistance to regional and local micro-enterprise development organizations (MDOs) that specialize in assisting non-traditional entrepreneurs. This assistance includes pre-concept counseling, business plan development, credit repair and counseling, credit access and continuing technical assistance. To deliver these services, the MDOs also partner with banks, area businesses, educational institutions, each other and/or other private and public entities within the community. These organizations provide a service that often is not otherwise available and are designed to support the entrepreneur, even after accessing capital. VEI seeks to engage MDOs that provide innovative processes to attract and assist micro-entrepreneurs.

Community Business Launch

The Community Business Launch (CBL) is designed to assist communities in taking a systems approach to defining and pursuing an asset-based small business development strategy. The 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 will provide 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 start up their new endeavor.

While only a limited number of entrepreneurs may win the business competitions, CBL will give rise to many budding entrepreneurs that have been prepared, through the CBL initiative, to be successful businesses. In addition, it will help communities begin to develop a coordinated, comprehensive sustainable environment that identifies, launches and supports community-based entrepreneurs and small business at all levels of development.

Community Development Block Grant

The Virginia Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides funding to eligible units of local government for planning and implementing projects that address critical community development needs, including housing, infrastructure and economic development. The goal of the CDBG Program is to improve the economic and physical environment in Virginia’s communities through activities which primarily benefit low- and moderate-income persons, prevent or eliminate slums and blighting conditions or meet urgent needs which threaten the welfare of citizens.

 Entrepreneur Challenge

An Entrepreneur Challenge is a competitive process for potential and emerging entrepreneurs that provides business training, mentorship, networking opportunities, and an improved level of coordinated resources and community support. The competitions raise awareness of Southwest Virginia entrepreneurial opportunities and typically offer investment grants to top competitors following a pitch event and submission of a business plan.

Since 2012, the Southwest Virginia region has held 36 competitions with over 290 program graduates.

Start your own competition!

Communities across Southwest Virginia are joining the trend and supporting entrepreneurial development by hosting business plan competitions. Through entrepreneur challenges, communities can show their support for small businesses by providing emerging or existing entrepreneurs with training, mentorship, and an improved level of coordinated resources. Coordinating a competition can be accomplished by following a simple process and using the abundant resources available in the region.

Industrial Revitalization Fund

The Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) leverages local and private resources to achieve market-driven redevelopment of vacant and deteriorated industrial and commercial properties.

The program is targeted toward vacant industrial structures whose poor condition creates physical and economic blight to the surrounding area in which the structure is located. Eligible properties shall include those formerly used for manufacturing, warehousing, mining, transportation and power production, as well as large-scale white elephant structures, such as department stores, theaters, hotels and shopping centers. Structures whose original intended use was solely residential are not eligible.

Remnants of past economic vibrancy and local economies in transition, these structures are no longer suited for their former purpose, and in their current deteriorated condition, stand as a significant deterrent for future economic opportunity in the surrounding area and region. The maximum level of funding is $500,000.

Rally Southwest Virginia

Rally Southwest Virginia – Real Action Leadership Learning is building community leadership capacity and reinforcing collaborative, entrepreneurial communities across the region. A strategy of the Opportunity SWVA initiative, Rally SWVA is an action learning mini-grant program that engages community leaders in working together to make their community a better place for small businesses.

Tourism Development Financing Program

The Commonwealth of Virginia has established a financing program for qualified Virginia tourism development projects. The Tourism Development Financing Program provides two different tiers of financing to compensate for a shortfall in project funding. The purpose of the program is to provide a gap financing mechanism for projects that cannot, otherwise, find 100% funding or lending for a project.