Advancement Foundation expanding and soon-to-launch businesses

The Advancement Foundation is accepting applications for its business assistance program now. The foundation will be awarding financial and other help through its Gauntlet Awards program that runs 12 weeks beginning in February. Earthworks Pottery and New Moon Creative Media are among the businesses that received help through the foundation. They celebrated their business openings in Vinton in September. They were among the 2016 The Advancement Foundation Gauntlet competition award recipients. In 2016, The Advancement Foundation awarded over $106,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to about 25 entrepreneurs who enrolled in business classes through the foundation. The entrepreneurs were mentored by 130 business owners and specialists. These two businesses celebrated with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony with (from left) Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce President Todd Creasy, Earthworks Pottery owner Jim Privatera, New Moon Creative Media owner Denise Membreno and Vinton Mayor Brad Grose.
Photo by Debbie Adams

The Advancement Foundation will be providing new, expanding and soon-to-launch businesses in Botetourt County with an opportunity to compete for $200,000 in cash and professional services to help their small businesses.

The non-profit foundation that was organized in 2007 has already helped a number of small businesses get off the ground successfully, and has a business incubator in downtown Vinton.

Annette Patterson

President Annette Patterson told the Botetourt Board of Supervisors the foundation focuses on comprehensive community and economic growth by creating opportunities for asset development, education and self-reliance for the area’s small businesses during a board meeting late last year.

She noted then that the foundation does this by leveraging existing community resources to focus on community development and by working with approximately 200 non-profits across central and southwest Virginia.

Patterson has reached out to Botetourt County and its three incorporated towns in an effort to expand the area it serves.

New, planned and existing small business owners in the county are eligible for free business training through The Advancement Foundation and can participate in “The Gauntlet,” the competition to award $200,000 in cash and professional services to selected winning businesses.

The Gauntlet is funded in part by a $70,000 state Building Collaborative Communities Grant.

The grant money and prizes will provide valuable business assets such as office space, business licenses, chamber memberships, computers, training and money for equipment and supplies.

Business owners will demonstrate how they will leverage awards to create economic growth within the community. Completed business plans will be presented to a panel of judges with winners announced in May.

The Advancement Foundation is working with Botetourt and Roanoke Counties’ economic development departments, town managers from Buchanan and Fincastle and the mayor of Troutville, Virginia tourism, Roanoke, Vinton and the Roanoke-Salem Chambers, Roanoke Regional Partnership, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), AmeriCorps State, AmeriCorps Vista, VIDA, The McLeod Foundation, the Town of Vinton, Williamson Road Area Business Association- Hollins, and Brambleton Area Business Association to coordinate a comprehensive plan to reach out and engage the communities greatest assets— its business leaders and budding entrepreneurs.

Patterson told the supervisors that ideal spots for businesses in Botetourt are based on the Exit 150 marketing study and include a large camping venue, a grocery store in Buchanan, and leveraging the trails and greenways in Troutville/Daleville to attract new businesses, and a brewery/whiskey bar in the Fincastle area.

She said she has talked with representatives of the three towns and obtained information about their business space availability and options for potential new businesses.

She noted the foundation wants to engage youth, celebrate the area’s assets, develop infrastructure, knowledge, resources and attract and facilitate small businesses, and offer them support and coaching.

She told the supervisors this is done through a 12-week program that will run from February through April.

The effort includes:

  • Attracting 75 entrepreneurs to open or expand businesses in Botetourt and Roanoke Counties.
  • Expanding the region’s largest business competition, The Gauntlet, by raising $200,000 in cash and prizes for the competition winners.
  • Strengthening and expanding the infrastructure to support entrepreneurial activity.
  • Branding the region’s support for entrepreneurial activity that celebrates the area’s assets and demonstrates extraordinary support for small business.

The Advancement Foundation is currently taking applications for the program, which will begin on February 7 and meet once a week through April.

Participants who want to enter The Gauntlet competition to get help starting or expanding their business will create a business plan, meet with multiple advisors, talk with potential customers and attend classes in order to gain strong business skills to use in building their business.

The business competition award ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, May 11.

Persons interested in becoming a part of the business program and competition, have knowledge they are willing to share or wish to be a sponsor of the competition, should contact The Advancement Foundation at 540-283-7062.

For anyone interested in starting or expanding a business in Botetourt or Roanoke County, the application is on the foundation website at

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