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The River District Association has awarded five businesses a total of $70,500 to open or expand their brick-and-mortar businesses in the River District.
These businesses participated in the River District Association’s second Dream Launch program, a multi-phase entrepreneur engagement program that consisted of a six-week entrepreneur boot camp series.
“It is a joy to be able to give people the information, tools, and funds they need to start their own business,” said Diana Schwartz, executive director of the River District Association. “We take the name of the program very seriously -- we really do want to help people launch their dreams of entrepreneurship.”
The businesses receiving awards were:
Cottontail Weddings & Events - $22,000. Cottontail Weddings and Events (Cottontail) is an industrial warehouse wedding venue, located at 600 Craghead Street, in the River District of Danville VA. They have been in operation since 2017. This funding will allow them to improve their kitchen, install a dishwasher, a warming cabinet, and an ice machine and purchase plates, glasses, and utensils.
Ma’s Cakes - $15,000. Ma’s Cakes currently operates as a mobile vendor serving slices of homemade dessert. In addition to offering desserts and gourmet items, Ma’s Cakes will become a facility for events and functions of medium or small scale. They are currently in the process of up fitting their brick and mortar location to accommodate their future plans. This funding will aid in their progress.
Nana Karen’s Kitchen- $15,000. Nana Karen’s Kitchen, or Nana Karen’s On Main, will become a brick and mortar expansion of Nana Karen’s Cruisin’ Kitchen, a local food truck established in 2017. These funds will be utilized for renovations, equipment purchases, furniture, as well as initial inventory as they transition to a restaurant located at 547 Main Street.
Dominion Athletics - $10,000. Dominion Athletics offers cost affordable training with a certified fitness instructor/coach to participants ranging from ages 4-99. Dominion CrossFit is an Official CrossFit Affiliate located in the River District at 308 Court Street. The awarded funds will help Dominion expand and acquire more furnishings, fixtures, and equipment to continue serving and improving the health of our community.
Blush & Bashful Waxing Spa - $8,500. Established in 2018, Blush and Bashful provides personal grooming services, specializing in brow styling and convenient body waxing, to Danville and surrounding areas. Blush and Bashful seeks to expand the business physically and increase staff to accommodate more customers per week to meet current demand.
Also, District 319, Sparxx and Vintage Boutique were awarded funding for facade improvements and marketing assistance.
The series was open to anyone who agreed to open a brick and mortar storefront in the River District.
More than 50 people attended the boot camp classes between January and March. Twenty-seven of those obtained Certificates of Achievement for completing the series. One final class and the pitch competition remained when it became necessary to halt the program due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dream Launch 2020 resumed on June 29, albeit in a different format. The final course, which consisted of business plan finalizations and pitch preparation, occurred virtually.
On July 21, eight Dream Launch participants pitched their business plans to the Dream Launch committee and a panel of judges during a virtual pitch competition.
Funding for the 2020 Dream Launch program was obtained by RDA, the City of Danville Office of Economic Development, and the Dan River Region Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. RDA is able to manage the program thanks to organizational funding and support from the Danville Regional Foundation.
Additional community partners in the Dream Launch initiative include the Longwood Small Business Development Center, The Launch Place, and Danville Regional Foundation, among several others.
Danville Community College, Grizzly’s Hatchet House, SBDC Longwood, KG Graphics, and Maximum Effort Agency provided other in-kind donations.
The River District Association was organized in 1999 as the Downtown Danville Association. In May 2015, the organization was renamed the River District Association to complement the City’s River District brand and is an accredited Virginia and National Main Street Community. The office is located at 527 Bridge St.