Downtown Lynchburg Association announces largest grant ever toward business developer

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – The Downtown Lynchburg Association received $115,000 Wednesday toward launching a new business program with the goal of filling in vacant storefronts in the downtown area.

This is thanks to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s announcement of $180,000 in Community Business Launch (CBL) grants for the Downtown Lynchburg Association, Nelson County and the Waynesboro Economic Development Authority.

The funds were allocated directly from the commonwealth and awarded through a competitive process.

“This is by far the most funds we’ve ever received and it’s the first time our organization has really gone out there and got that money,” says Ashley Kershner, Executive Director of Downtown Lynchburg Association.

One store owner says she has been in business more than 40 years and is excited to see the changes the money could bring.

“Business needs to come downtown; we need more business,” says Susan Horsely, owner of The Wig Center in Downtown Lynchburg.

The search for grants started out of a need to fill in vacant properties across Lynchburg, something that has plagued the Hill City for years.

“We currently have 25% store vacancy in downtown Lynchburg. Things are growing, things are expanding, there is so much happening down here but we think we can accelerate our growth and get more amenities… more businesses down here,” said Kershner.

In addition, $90,000 is allocated for Launch LYH from the grant, the Truist Foundation donated $25,000 toward helping minority business owners find storefronts.

“Historically, minority owned businesses do not or have not had the same access to resources, capital, information that non-minority owners have so we want to provide those opportunities. Want to make sure we’re specifically targeting those individuals. We will have grants for everyone we want to make sure we save some funds that,” said Kershner.

Selected candidates could receive anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.

The new program is set to launch in early 2023.

Read More: Downtown Lynchburg Association announces largest grant ever toward business developer

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