Botetourt County, Roanoke County, the Alleghany Highlands, and The Advancement Foundation are teaming up to support small business development across the region.

The Advancement Foundation (TAF) is celebrating 10 years of community impact and is hosting the Fourth Annual Gauntlet Business Program and Competition. This is the largest business program and competition in Virginia.

This year the Gauntlet program will award $250,000 in startup capital and prizes to participants.

Last year, TAF gave away over $200,000 to the 2017 Gauntlet participants to start or expand their local businesses.

Previous Gauntlet graduates include Twin Creeks Brewing Company, Wingman Outfitter, Blue Mountain Adventures, Discount Computer Services, Dreyer Academy, P.A. on Demand, New Moon Creative Media, Earthworks Pottery, Hamm’s Fine Foods, New Freedom Farm, Big Lick Boomerang, Dr. Auto Spa, Thread Love, 581 Media, Frost Gear, Twice Treasured Consignment, and Primary Solutions Physical Therapy, to name a few.

The Gauntlet program is very excited about folks wanting to start recreational and outdoor tourism businesses in the beautiful Roanoke region, according to an announcement by the program. “The Gauntlet is all about creating synergy to support small business and to continue to expand the local entrepreneurial ecosystem,” the announcement said.

Those who have an outdoor tourism business idea or have any business idea that they would like to explore, The Gauntlet is an opportunity to dig deeper into that idea.

The Gauntlet is also a program for those who want to learn about starting a business and entrepreneurship, and for those who have an existing business and would like to expand.

Anyone can participate in the program, ranging from high school students to adults.

Competitors must start or expand their businesses in Botetourt County, Roanoke County or the Alleghany Highlands in order to compete to win cash and prizes (though the competition at the end of the classes is not required as participants are welcome to join The Gauntlet just for the educational piece and experience).

The Gauntlet classes will be held once a week, every Tuesday, starting February 6, at a cost of $45 per month for three months. Classes run from 6-7:30 p.m. in two locations— at the Vinton War Memorial in Vinton and at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College  in Clifton Forge. Participants may choose either location.

The Gauntlet Awards Ceremony will be May 17.

Email  for more information or register at to join this year’s program.