February 6, 2013

A state grant will enable a regional board to offer entrepreneurship classes to high school students, educators and business-minded individuals in the Dan River Region.


The West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board, which serves Danville and Pittsylvania County and other neighboring localities, has received a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to establish a project that would offer entrepreneurship courses this summer.

The board is one of five projects across the state that applied for money and will receive part of $225,000 in funding through Virginia’s Building Collaborative Communities Program started in 2012. The board also serves Henry and Patrick counties and Martinsville.


“In its first year, Building Collaborative Communities jumpstarted several regional collaborative efforts across the commonwealth,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a prepared statement announcing the grants. “The selected projects focus on and facilitate involvement from the private sector, community organizations and various other regional organizations that can make the collaboration a success.”


Kim Adkins, mayor of Martinsville and executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board, said the entrepreneurship classes will be offered at sites in all five of the board’s localities. Danville Community College, the Institute for Advanced Learning and


Research, the Regional Center for Applied Technology and Training and county schools are possible locations in Danville and Pittsylvania County, Adkins said.


“Investment in entrepreneurship development is an important part of workforce development,” said. “There are homegrown talents we should support.”


The program will include continuing education classes for teachers so they can continue teaching entrepreneurial skills, Adkins said. It will also include business plan writing competitions for high school students, she said.


“This is a great opportunity for us to expose our youth to business opportunities and the possibilities of owning their own businesses,” said Laurie Moran, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. Moran is chair of the National Association of Workforce Boards.


Participation is free but will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be limited to 40 educators, 100 students and 95 other entrepreneurial individuals who plan to start their own business, Adkins said.


The board will provide a $25,000 match for the $50,000, totaling $75,000. The project will cost about $111,000, Adkins said. The Dan River Regional Collaborative will provide $10,890 toward the project, with the rest coming from in-kind contributions and services.


The board partners with local elected officials in the five-locality region and “provides leadership and direction to determine how best to deliver workforce services for the region,” according to the board’s website. The board also designates Virginia Workforce Centers.


Those interested in enrolling can call Adkins at (276) 656-6190 or Moran at (434) 836-6990.


By John R. Crane Work It, SoVa