Bon Secours Richmond Health System announced yesterday that it will provide $50,000 in renewable funding, to be awarded to promising East End entrepreneurs, through an annual business plan competition.
The funding is part of the health system’s partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in the creation of the Supporting East End Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) Awards program. The program is designed to foster and engage the community around job and business creation by funding and mentoring a new generation of business people committed to urban renewal.
“Less than a year ago, Bon Secours Richmond Health System joined forces with the city of Richmond to assist in the revitalization of Church Hill and the 25th Street and Nine Mile Road corridor in the East End of Richmond,” said Michael Robinson, CEO of Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center, Richmond Community Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center. “Today, we are proud to join LISC in an effort that will allow entrepreneurs in the community an opportunity to establish new businesses that will help this community thrive.”
The funding will assist as many as three successful applicants annually, helping them navigate the process of starting and growing a business. Each entrepreneur granted funding will receive business planning and coaching assistance to launch their ideas. Candice Streett, executive director of LISC, noted that “LISC is pleased to partner with Bon Secours on the creation of the SEED Awards Program. The grant awards will support the successful development of new business ventures in the Church Hill neighborhood, stimulating neighborhood economic activity and job creation.”
The stipulation for awardees: all businesses must be located in the 23223 zip code within the city of Richmond, preferably along the 25th Street and Nine Mile Road Corridor.
According to Bon Secours and LISC officials, the SEED Awards focus on the East End because it is a neighborhood with the infrastructure already in place to support local businesses. Nearly every block has a commercial space interspersed with residential lots, many of which are awaiting new life and fresh ideas to revive the neighborhood.
“A master plan exists for the commercial corridors of 25th Street and Nine Mile Road and numerous non-profit and government agencies are already working to improve the housing options, the school system and food security for residents,” said Robinson. ?“What’s missing is a dynamic program to grow business ownership in the East End, helping to alleviate a cycle of poverty that has challenged this neighborhood for many years.”
More details on the SEED Awards application and administering processes will be released on June 21, at the Robinson Theatre, during the one-year follow-up to the East End Vision charrette.