Activation Capital Awarded State Grant to Develop Regional Entrepreneurship Strategy for Central Virginia

-$450,000 Committed to Using Entrepreneurship as a Means of Economic Development-

Richmond, VA – Activation Capital, a leading entrepreneurship and ecosystem development organization, was awarded $300,000 from GO Virginia for Region 4’s Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI).  The funding, coupled with cash and in-kind donations from Altria, Dominion Energy, Greensville County and Activation Capital will total $450,000 to design a strategic growth plan for regional entrepreneurship.

The REI will develop a strategy to accelerate growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Central Virginia, spanning small business and scalable tech ventures. With this initiative, the region will set a strategic direction to increase the rate of new business creation, coordinate resources and programs, accelerate existing businesses, and identify opportunities to strengthen the business founder pipeline.

“Investing in entrepreneurship and supporting startups is essential to growing our regional economy,” says Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital.  “This effort will take a broad look across the region to identify existing strategies, assets, resources, and needs — and leverage those insights to build an integrated supply chain of support to grow the number of successful entrepreneurs. It’s imperative that we design clear pathways for aspiring business founders and organize our collective resources to aid them from idea to launch and growth. This funding will help the region design a framework to accomplish this collaboratively.”

While Activation Capital’s work typically focuses on developing scalable tech businesses, the organization is the designated lead for regional entrepreneurship strategy and has designed a strategic planning approach that encompasses stakeholders supporting small businesses as well as tech startups. Multiple open stakeholder meetings have taken place, and a strategy committee has been established with representatives from ChamberRVA, Virginia Gateway Region, Activation Council, Virginia Union University, Virginia State University, the University of Richmond, the Community Foundation, Lighthouse Labs, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Greensville County, SBDC, and Jackson Ward Collective.

“Activation Capital’s Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative is taking a fresh approach to ecosystem building by getting buy-in from diverse stakeholders from across the region and developing pilot projects to test and validate gaps. This represents one of the first efforts to connect the Greater Richmond and Greater Petersburg areas into a holistic entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem,” said Conaway Haskins, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC). VIPC previously recognized Activation Capital’s contributions as the region’s tech ecosystem leader by awarding it funding from the Regional Innovation Fund, a state-funded grant program administered by that organization. “With this additional valuable funding support coming from GO Virginia, Activation Capital will generate real-time lessons learned that can be shared with other ecosystems across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

One outcome of the regional entrepreneurship initiative is to identify a small business “lead” organization to coordinate small business efforts regionally.  Other important outcomes include the consolidation of ecosystem research; a comprehensive map of regional assets; an ecosystem gap analysis; a plan for addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion; a comprehensive regional strategic plan for ecosystem growth and sustainability; and prioritization of strategic initiatives.

Region 4, comprised of the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan, Prince George, Surry, and Sussex, and the cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell, Petersburg and Richmond, has all of the key elements needed to support all entrepreneurs and the funding of this project will allow for the creation of an updated strategic plan to move the needle in Central Virginia.

This project is funded in part by GO VIRGINIA, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher-wage jobs in strategic industries.

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