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GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT FAIR AND WORKSHOP
 
As a part of larger efforts to increase spending with small, woman-, and minority-owned businesses (SWaM), the City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development partnered with the City of Charlottesville Division of Procurement & Risk Management to host two events aimed at educating business leaders about selling their products and services to the government and connecting government buyers with local businesses.

 

The first event, a selling to the City workshop, was held on March 18th at CitySpace. Jennifer Luchard, from the City of Charlottesville Division of Procurement & Risk Management, explained how businesses can become registered City vendors. Hollie Lee, from the City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development, discussed the SWaM (small, woman-, and minority-owned business) certification process and how businesses can sell products and services to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wrapping up the presentation, Laurence Frabotta from Mobean Consulting offered strategies for small businesses to market themselves to government buyers. More than 40 local businesses attended the event.

 

The following week, on March 25th, over 70 businesses and 100 attendees participated in the Government Procurement Fair. This event allowed local businesses the opportunity to talk face-to-face with fifteen City departments and representatives from Albemarle County, Orange County, Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC), Region Ten, and CFA Institute. It was not only beneficial to business owners, as the buyers also learned about more businesses in the community. One City buyer stated, "I had no idea there were so many IT companies in this area. This opens up a lot of opportunity for expanded business from the City to these local vendors as well as giving me more options to obtain best pricing."  

 

These events provided great networking connections that will hopefully lead to more revenue opportunities for local businesses by selling to government buyers.

 
ALTERNATIVES FOR SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING WORKSHOP
 
Over 40 business owners, City leaders, and business organizations gathered Wednesday, March 19th for the 2014 Funding for Business Growth Seminar. Representatives from a wide variety of resources including the Small Business Administration (SBA), Central Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Central Virginia Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) discussed the wide variety funding resources and opportunities for small businesses. Topics included federal and state loan and guarantee programs, project financing, micro loans, and crowd-funding. One business owner who attended said, "Bringing together all of these resources helps me understand all my options. As a new business, I've struggled to secure the type of financing I feel I need to be successful. Now I have a whole other set of resources I can explore." The City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development hosted the seminar in partnership with Albemarle County Economic Development and Virginia Community Capital.
 
PLUGGEDINVA CELEBRATES MID-TERM ACHIEVEMENTS
 
On Friday, March 21st, students in the PluggedInVA pilot program celebrated their mid-term success during an open house at Jefferson School City Center. The students presented on their experiences and achievements thus far, including 100% successful completion of the National Retail Federation Customer Service Certification and attainment of community college credits.

 

The intensive, six-month program requires participants to attend class five days a week for six hours each day. By the end of the program in June, all students will have successfully completed the Career Readiness Certificate, National Retail Federation Certification, nine community college credit hours, and a capstone project. The program is administered by Thomas Jefferson Adult Career Education and Piedmont Virginia Community College and is partially funded by the City of Charlottesville.

 

Congratulations to the PluggedInVA participants on their success so far!

 
28 FREE CAREER READINESS CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE
 
Twenty-eight, free Career Readiness Certificates (CRC) are now available to employers in our area who would like to use the CRC in either hiring or promoting their workers. The CRC not only identifies the most qualified applicants, it reduces turnover, improves productivity, quality, customer service, and helps ensure a higher return-on-investment. The CRC also provides an objective, legally valid, and reliable skills assessment for hiring decisions and an effective workplace development program. Employers who would like to take advantage of these free CRCs should contact Valerie Palamountain, Piedmont Virginia Community College Dean of Workforce Services, at (434) 961-5333 or by email vpalamountain@pvcc.edu.
 
INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE WORKFORCE ADVISORY COUNCIL

The Workforce Advisory Council (WAC) held its inaugural meeting on Friday, February 10, 2014, the first of a series of quarterly meetings to develop strategies to grow training and employment opportunities for City residents that will help them move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Recommended by the Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) as part of a larger plan to address workforce issues in Charlottesville, the WAC serves in an advisory capacity to the City as it develops and implements its workforce development efforts and strategies. In order to improve collaborative efforts among City departments and workforce service providers, representatives from five City departments (including the Office of Economic Development), partnering educational institutions (including UVa and PVCC), workforce and economic development organizations, and private sector companies will serve two year terms on the WAC. The WAC's recommendations will be targeted towards addressing the seven major barriers to self-sufficiency established in the SAT's report Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville: job creation, basic literacy, workplace skills, transportation, childcare, criminal history, and housing.

CLEAN ENERGY COMMERCIAL LOAN PROGRAM LAUNCHES IN C'VILLE
 
Local businesses can now take advantage of a new City of Charlottesville Clean Energy Commercial Loan Program launched earlier this month by UVA Community Credit Union, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), and the City of Charlottesville. A variety of projects are eligible for loans, including: lighting upgrades; energy audits; energy management controls; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; refrigeration and food service; duct sealing, insulation; water heaters, and renewables. For more information, CLICK HERE.
 
ACCESS TO FINANCING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Virginia Community Capital (VCC), in partnership with the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development and the Albemarle County Office of Economic Development, is planning to host a "Funding for Growth" seminar. The goal of the event is to focus on alternative funding sources, guarantees, and technical assistance available to small businesses and government contractors in the region. Expanding business owners will learn from industry experts about accessible resources through government programs and VCC's financing opportunities. Tentatively scheduled to present are representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Center, the Procurement Technical Assistance Program, the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, and Virginia Community Capital.

The event, which is free and open to all local businesses, will be held on March 19th at CitySpace (100 5th Street, NE) from 7:30am to 10:30am in downtown Charlottesville.

VCC is a non-profit, a community development financial institution (CDFI), and banking entity providing innovative loan and investment solutions for affordable housing and economic development projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

If you are interested in receiving more information, as it becomes available, please contact Jason Ness at 434-970-3717 or nessj@charlottesville.org.

SELLING TO THE CITY WORKSHOP AND TRADE SHOW
 
Looking for new business opportunities? Make the City of Charlottesville your next customer! The Office of Economic Development, in collaboration with Division of Procurement & Risk Management, is hosting a two-part event to provide information to local businesses on selling their services and products to the City.

Attend the Selling to the City Workshop on Tuesday, March 18th to learn how to become a registered vendor with the City. The workshop will be held at CitySpace on the Downtown Mall from 9:00am to 11:00am. Guest speaker, Laurence Frabotta from Mobean Research Group, will also give a special presentation on marketing best practices. The workshop will be a great opportunity for local businesses to connect with vendor resources and access new opportunities.

The Trade Show, which is part two of the Selling to the City initiative, will be held on Tuesday, March 25th from 9:00am to 11:00am at Carver Recreation Center in the Jefferson School City Center. City buyers, and buyers from surrounding localities, will set up onsite and be available to talk to businesses about the services and products they purchase. The Trade Show will give local businesses a chance to meet buyers face-to-face so that they can increase their revenue potential through government procurement.

Both events are free and open to all City businesses. To learn more about the event and to register, contact the Office of Economic Development at 434-970-3117. 

HOLLIE LEE SELECTED FOR 4 UNDER 40 AWARD
 
Hollie Lee was recently recognized as a one of Charlottesville Woman Magazine's 4 under 40 Award recipients at the Chamber's 2014 Quadruplicity Women's Conference. Since beginning work with the Office of Economic Development in 2007, Hollie has been instrumental in providing entrepreneurial support services and programing for Charlottesville businesses. In 2013, her role expanded to include a focus on workforce development reflecting the City's efforts to further align workforce and economic development efforts. Congratulations, Hollie!

RFP FOR WATER STREET DEVELOPMENT RELEASED
 
The City of Charlottesville is seeking proposals from qualified developers interested in presenting a viable design and development concept for a mixed-use development in downtown Charlottesville. The City-owned site on Water Street is currently being used as a surface parking lot and as the location for the City Market. The City is looking for a creative approach to development that accommodates the City Market and enables significant mixed-used development to occur on the site. Responses are due by March 14, 2014. Please CLICK HERE to download the RFP.
 
BARAKA SPECIALTY GROCERY STORE RE-LAUNCHES
 
Baraka Middle Eastern Food and Grocery, located at 2114 Angus Road, has reopened under new ownership. Mohammed Al Musawi and his wife, Sahar Al Rubaiy, purchased the business from the former owner at the beginning of January 2014. Since this time, Mr. Al Musawi has dedicated himself to finding quality products and suppliers from the Middle East. Baraka specializes in halal foods and carries halal meat, Mediterranean spices, dried goods, dairy products, and fresh produce. Halal foods are foods that are permissible under Islamic guidelines and prepared to certain standards. Mr. Al Musawi has plans to expand his business with a halal meat department and deli in the near future.

Originally from Iraq, Mr. Al Musawi and his family immigrated over fifteen years ago to the Northern Virginia area. Mr. Al Musawi served as an advisor to the United States Department of Defense during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Due to his service of distinction, Mr. Al Musawi was granted citizenship six years ago. When the chance presented itself to purchased Baraka, Mr. Al Musawi saw this as an opportunity to build a strong Middle Eastern community in the Charlottesville area. "I opened this store as a way to rebuild the sense of community we had in our former countries," Mr. Al Musawi said. "No matter where you are from, Baraka will have the foods and friendly customer service that will remind you of home."
 
CFA INSTITUTE MOVES TO DOWNTOWN CVILLE
 
Twenty-seven months after ceasing operation as a hospital, the former Martha Jefferson Hospital facility has sprung back to life as the global operations center for CFA Institute's 400+ employees. CFA welcomed its employees to the downtown area in December, after wrapping up an extensive fourteen-month renovation.

The official opening of the building marked the end of the process that led CFA to relocating to downtown Charlottesville. The City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development partnered with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and former Governor Bob McDonnell's office to secure a grant to ensure this local business remained in the area. The ability to utilize the Governor's Opportunity Fund assisted CFA in consolidating several separate office buildings located within our region into one new home. The extensive renovation expects to receive LEED certification in the future.

The remaining two buildings on the former MJH campus are currently undergoing renovation for future commercial and residential use. Renovations in the Cardwell building are scheduled to be completed by mid-2014.
 
BETTER BUSINESS CHALLENGE SUSTAINABILITY PITCH NIGHT
 
On January 23, 2014, the Better Business Challenge held its Sustainability Innovation Pitch Night at the i.Lab at UVA's Darden School of Business. Despite twenty degree weather outside, over sixty people came out to hear seven pitch-style presentations. Judges evaluated each pitch and the crowd weighed in on its favorite presenters. The Overall Winner was Joni Lane, from Boston Architectural College, and Anna Perry from Charlottesville High School, won for both "Most Feasible" and People's Choice. City Councilor Kathy Galvin and Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Jane Dittmar also gave special commendations to the Better Business Challenge program and to Challenge businesses that are taking sustainability actions.
 
SKILLED TRADES SUMMIT
 
On December 10th, the City of Charlottesville hosted a summit on skilled trades and advanced manufacturing in the region at the Jefferson School City Center. In spite of the ominous weather forecast, almost 50 people attended the event. The goal of the summit was to bring policy makers together with economic and workforce development professionals to focus discussions on preparing the local workforce for skilled trades employment and exploring ways of attracting this type of industry to Greater Charlottesville.

Joe Thomas of Monticello Media served as the Master of Ceremonies. The day opened with remarks from Mayor Huja, followed by two discussion panels. The first panel included representatives from both the local business and education communities. Crystal Mario of Rivanna Natural Designs and Zach Snider of Alloy Workshop shared experiences of building successful businesses with quality workers in the area. John Donnelly of Piedmont Virginia Community College and Adam Hastings of Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center talked about their collaborative efforts to train the workforce with the skills needed by the business community. The second panel featured Barry Johnson from the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science, who discussed skilled manufacturing throughout the Commonwealth and presented information about UVA's Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) located in Prince George County, Virginia. The keynote speaker was Simon Nance of STIHL, INC. During his remarks, Mr. Nance discussed his perspective on skilled trades and encouraged attendees to examine how each could impact the workforce in the Charlottesville area.

The impetus of this event came from City Councilor Dave Norris and the work of the Strategic Action Team (SAT). The SAT's report, Growing Opportunities, discussed ways to increase self-sufficiency through workforce opportunities for City residents. This event was the first in a series of economic opportunity summits the Office of Economic Development plans to hold. For more information about the Growing Opportunities report, CLICK HERE.
 
CVILLE RANKED #2 COLLEGE TOWN IN AMERICA
 
Travel+Leisure released its 2013 list of America's Best College Towns. Noting famed alums such as Tina Fey, Bobby Kennedy, and Tiki Barber, the article also highlights the variety of amenities in Charlottesville. The Downtown Mall, vibrant food scene, and the Paramount Theater were stated reasons why Charlottesville was ranked near the top of the list. The Top Five Towns are: Burlington, Vermont; Charlottesville, Virginia; San Luis Obispo, California; Williamsburg, Virginia; and Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Travel+Leisure readers nominated their favorite towns using the hashtag #TLTowns. Over 740 towns were nominated, and Charlottesville earned the second most votes. To see the complete list, CLICK HERE.

10TH ANNUAL TECH TOUR WRAP-UP
 
Seventy technology-based companies and organizations volunteered their time and space to host 90 separate tours for the students. These local businesses opened their doors to allow students to envision themselves as technology employees, professionals and entrepreneurs in the next wave of high tech advancements in our area.

Last Thursday marked the 10th Annual Tech Tour. It was a great day of engaging students about their futures and showcasing the dynamic, high technology careers in this region. This was the largest Tech Tour ever, with over 400 students participating from 23 different schools, including students from Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School.

Students had access to a wide variety of companies. Groups saw a live crash test at the International Institute for Highway Safety, and at Willowtree Apps, located in downtown Charlottesville, they learned how apps are created. Other groups had access to secure facilities at DIA and NGIC, while others toured OESH Shoes, Elder Research, CustomInk, and the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. Some also met with staff from biotechnologies companies such as Hemoshear, MicroAire, and Indoor Biotechnologies.

The largest accomplishment from the tour was the ability to raise the amount of the CBIC Tech Tour Scholarship fund. With an increase in business support, two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded next spring to Tech Tour attendees!
 
LAUNCH OF PLUGGEDINVA
 
PluggedInVA is a new education and workforce training program for adults ready to begin a career in retail customer service. A partnership with the City of Charlottesville, Piedmont Virginia Community College, and area businesses, the Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education program PluggedIn combines workforce training, community college coursework, and industry credentialing in a six-month program for highly motivated adults. The program is currently seeking applicants to form its first cohort of students, who will begin the program in December. Information meetings will be held on October 22, first at 10am at the Westhaven Community Center at 801 Hardy Drive, and then at 3:30pm at Jefferson City Center at 233 Fourth Street, NW.

Applicants must have their GED or high school diploma and be eligible to apply for financial aid; for qualifying students, the program will be free of charge. Accepted students will commit to a full-time schedule from December through June 2014. The cohort will meet daily with adult education teachers for job training and classes at PVCC. Students who complete the program will earn the National Retail Federation's Professional Certification in Customer Service as well as nine college credits. Please spread the word if you have clients, staff, etc. that might be interested in the program.

FREE CAREER READINESS CERTIFICATES FOR BUSINESSES
 
The Virginia Community College System is offering 70 free Career Readiness Certificates to employers in our area who would like to use the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) in either hiring or promoting their workers. This program not only identifies the most qualified applicants, it reduces turnover, improves productivity, quality, customer service, and helps ensure a higher return-on-investment. The CRC also provides an objective, legally valid and reliable skills assessment for hiring decisions, and an effective workplace development program. Employers who would like to use the CRC in the hiring or promotion process should contact Valerie Palamountain, Piedmont Virginia Community College Dean of Workforce Services, at (434) 961-5333 or by email vpalamountain@pvcc.edu. Employers can learn more about PVCC's CRC program HERE.
 
OED OFFERS BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The Office of Economic Development (OED) has created a pilot program to assist existing City-based businesses. The ACE Grant Program is designed to assist small business owner(s) increase revenue and business capacity by collaborating with OED staff and a small business consultant. During this partnership, a detailed business analysis and business assessment will be completed by the business consultant. Using those tools as a foundation, the small business owner(s), with assistance from OED staff and the business consultant, will then implement a strategic plan to achieve custom outcomes and measures.

Small business owner(s) will have the opportunity to work with professionals offering specialized business services (e.g., webpage development, branding, accounting, etc.) and receive direct technical assistance funding. Enrollment in the ACE Program is expected to last approximately three months.

Initial funding for this program is provided from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). To be eligible for the ACE Grant Program, businesses must meet HUD's low to moderate income level definition. Businesses can qualify if either the business owner(s) or clientele can be classified as low to moderate income.

Due to the limited availability of the funding for the program, businesses must complete an application, verify all requirements, and then have a formal interview to determine acceptance into the ACE Program. For additional information, please contact Jason Ness at nessj@charlottesville.org or 434-970-3717.
 
CHAMBER MINORITY BUSINESS CONFERENCE WRAP UP

On Tuesday, September 17th, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Minority Business Council held its second annual Minority Business Conference at the African-American Heritage Museum in the Jefferson School City Center. The conference was a daylong event offering numerous business-related workshops for businesses and entrepreneurs. Just a few of the topics included starting a business, teambuilding, and selling to the government.

There were also abundant networking opportunities, including a session on the wealth of your connection and a speed networking event. Local businesses were also on display, showcasing their products and services to conference attendees. Business development resources such as the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development, the Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, and the Virginia Workforce Center were onsite to provide information.

Prominent actress, Daphne Maxwell Reid, best known as Aunt Vivian from the TV show "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," served as the keynote speaker. Mrs. Reid talked to the attendees about her experience overcoming obstacles in pursuit of becoming an actress, and ultimately, a successful entrepreneur. Mrs. Reid also took time to answer questions from the audience, offering advice and encouragement to Charlottesville entrepreneurs.

The day ended with a fast-paced, highly interactive elevator pitch competition. Beyan Johnson, of Amazing Cleaning Service, won first place for existing businesses, and DeVaughn Anderson, representing Bill on Wheels, received first place in the new business category.

The conference was underwritten by the City of Charlottesville Dialogue on Race, from which the Chamber Minority Business Council was born. If you are seeking connections to enhance an established business, wanting to connect with minority-owned businesses, thinking of launching a new business and need to connect the pieces, contact the Chamber Minority Business Council for more information. To contact the CMBC or to get more information, CLICK HERE.

BUSINESSES ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE IN 7TH GRADE CAREER EXPO

Local businesses are encouraged to help support Piedmont Virginia Community College's Piedmont Futures Program. The 2013 7th Grade Career Expo will be held on October 22nd & 23rd at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Career Expo impacts 1,800 7th grade students from the City of Charlottesville and Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, and Nelson. During the expo, students are given the opportunity to view exhibits that demonstrate an activity associated with a particular career. Exhibits are hosted by businesses and are designed to be interactive, hands-on and fun so that students can literally "see, touch, smell, and hear" what a career field will be like. Exhibitors also talk with students about the education and training required to be a professional in that field. The exhibits are a chance to capture the imagination and interest of a student, and plant a seed of possibility. View the video from the 2012 7th Grade Career Expo!

The Expo runs from 9:30am to 1:30pm each day. Exhibitors are asked to attend both days of the event. Exhibitors set up their exhibits by 9am each day. Morning refreshments and lunch are provided. If your business in interested in participating, please contact Terry Burton at 434.961.6523 or tburton@pvcc.edu.

UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE GED

The Local Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education (TJACE) announced that the current version of the GED test will expire at the end of 2013.  The current version, known as the 2002 Series GED test, will be replaced with the new 2014 GED test on January 2, 2014.  Those who have taken the 2002 Series GED test, but not passed all five parts, have until the end of 2013 to pass or they will need to start over again in 2014 with the new GED test in order to receive their high school credential.

 

The new 2014 GED test will differ significantly from the current 2002 test.  It is based on the common core and is aligned with career and college readiness content.  Critical thinking and content knowledge in the subject areas will be required.  The tests will no longer be available in pen/paper format but will be delivered by computer in secure testing centers and will cost $120 (double the current cost).  The Office of Economic Development will provide scholarship money to TJACE for low income residents wanting to complete the GED by the end of the year.  Please contact TJACE to learn more, CLICK HERE or call 434-245-2817.

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE HOSTS ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING NETWORK INFORMATION EXCHANGE

Recently a group of property owners, business owners, and electric vehicle subject matter experts met to share information about the benefits of a publically-accessible electric vehicle charging network in Charlottesville. The event included an overview of electric vehicles, charging station technology, and several case studies regarding successful installation. The event was co-hosted by Virginia Clean Cities and the City of Charlottesville. For more information, CLICK HERE

OED CREATES WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT POSITION 

In July, a team of City staff led by the Office of Economic Development presented the Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville Report to City Council. The full report can be found HERE. A focus of the report is to foster training and employment opportunities to help City residents achieve self-sufficiency.

As a result of Council's endorsement of the report, the position of Chief of Workforce Development Strategies has been created. The position is a reclassification of a current Economic Development Specialist position held by Hollie Lee. Its creation will allow the further alignment of the City's workforce and economic development efforts and provide accountability for the implementation of the report.

"Hollie has become our in-house expert on workforce development, so this is a natural progression," said Director of Economic Development, Chris Engel. "This move sends a strong signal that the City is serious about the connection between workforce and economic development."

CHARLOTTESVILLE JULY 2013 VACANCY STUDY

Charlottesville's biannual vacancy study was completed in July. This was the eleventh study in a series of semi-annual reports prepared by the Office of Economic Development, starting in July of 2008. With an overall retail vacancy rate of 3.78% (17 vacancies), Charlottesville is well below the suburban Virginia average of 6.80%. This rate increased slightly from 2.88% in January for two reasons: the expansion of three businesses reduced the total number of storefronts and both the Downtown Mall and McIntire Plaza had a minimal increase in vacancies. The rate remains comparable to the July 2008 pre-recession rate of 3.10%.

The Downtown Mall specifically saw several changes. The vacancy rate increased slightly from the January 2013 study from 1.04% to 2.62%. In total, there were five vacancies on the Downtown Mall. Also, there has been one newly occupied property on the Downtown Mall since January 2013 and eight newly occupied properties since July 2012.

Of the other major shopping centers in Charlottesville: Barracks Road's vacancy rate increased slightly from 3.30% in January 2013 to 4.40% in July. The Corner's vacancy rate decreased from 1.69% to 0.00%. Preston Plaza's vacancy rate remained at 0.00% and Seminole Square experienced a slight rate increase to 13.46% due to existing business expansion. McIntire Plaza increased to one vacancy, a 2.08% vacancy rate, the same rate as in July 2012.

The overall vacancy rate of 3.78% is slightly higher than the January 2013 rate of 2.88%. It must be noted that the total number of storefronts decreased due to the expansion of businesses, which contributes to an increase in the overall rate. Furthermore, the overall number of vacancies increased by four since January 2013. These small fluctuations suggest that the retail situation in Charlottesville is stable, as empty storefronts, in general, do not stay vacant for long periods of time.
 

2013 CHAMBER MINORITY BUSINESS CONFERENCE

On Tuesday, September 17th, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Minority Business Council will host its 2nd Annual Minority Business Conference from 8:00am to 3:30pm at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in downtown Charlottesville. The conference is a daylong event offering numerous business-related workshops for seasoned businesses and start-ups alike. This year, the event welcomes as its keynote speaker actress Daphne Maxwell Reid, best known as Aunt Vivian on the hit comedy, "The Fresh Prince of BelAir." Daphne will talk about her 35-year acting career and her business, New Millennium Studios, which she co-founded with her husband, Tim Reid, in Petersburg, Virginia.

In addition to the keynote presentation, six breakout sessions on topics such as networking, telling your business's story, and leadership will be offered. There will also be abundant networking opportunities, as well as a marketplace where businesses will display their products and services to conference attendees. Business development resources such as the Community Investment Collaborative and the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development will be on-site to inform entrepreneurs of the services they offer. The day will end with a fast-paced, highly interactive elevator pitch competition, with winners receiving various advertising packages donated by those in the local community.

The conference is being underwritten by the City of Charlottesville Dialogue on Race, from which the Chamber Minority Business Council was born. If you are seeking connections to enhance an established business, wanting to connect with minority-owned businesses, or thinking of launching a new business and need to connect the pieces, you do not want to miss this!

For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.
 
2013 CHARLOTTESVILLE COMMUNITY CAREER CONFERENCE & CHAMBER BUSINESS EXPO 

The Office of Economic Development (OED) partnered with Computers4Kids to host a Youth Entrepreneurship class this summer (June 24th - June 28th). During the summer camp, students explored business basics and the steps involved in starting a business. This class served as a platform for students to understand the basics of entrepreneurship as they worked to launch their own business. During the week, the ideas and principles of business ownership were directly incorporated into students' personal business plans and ideas. Community business professionals volunteered each afternoon to help the students brainstorm business ideas and practice their business pitch.
On July 2nd, at CitySpace, the students pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, consisting of City Councilor Kathy Galvin, Computers4Kids Board member Colin Learmonth, and Toan Nguyen, owner of C'ville Coffee. All participating students exceeded the presentation requirements and were awarded start-up funding to launch their business. The top four finishers received additional funding. A reception was held at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion afterwards to celebrate the class' accomplishments.

The students' enthusiasm increased throughout the week, which made the inaugural class very memorable for teachers Dolly Joseph, Program Director at Computers, and Jason Ness, Office of Economic Development.

n Tuesday, October 8th, the City of Charlottesville will host the Charlottesville Community Career Conference at John Paul Jones Arena. This year, the Career Conference will be held in conjunction with the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business Expo. The combination of these two events will allow local businesses to recruit qualified job candidates, while marketing their products and services to the community at large. The Career Conference format will feature panel discussions on the major employment industries in our area. Not only will job seekers have the chance to meet with recruiters one-on-one as they have in the past at the community job fairs, but job seekers will also gain in depth information about the skills, training, and education needed to pursue career ladder positions within these industries.

The Career Conference is an opportunity for job seekers to learn directly from business representatives about how to market themselves to top employers in the local community. Building off the success of previous Community Job Fairs, this event will focus on how to begin a career or move up the career ladder in targeted industries in the Charlottesville area.

The Career Conference & Business Expo is free and open to the public from 9:00am to 3:00pm. However, pre-registration is highly encouraged to ensure that job seekers get to attend the industry panel discussions of their choice. We currently have exhibit space available for those interested in becoming a vendor at the event. For more information or to pre-register, CLICK HERE. Or, contact Hollie Lee at leeh@charlottesville.org or 434-970-3117.
 
SUMMER YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASS

The Office of Economic Development (OED) partnered with Computers4Kids to host a Youth Entrepreneurship class this summer (June 24th - June 28th). During the summer camp, students explored business basics and the steps involved in starting a business. This class served as a platform for students to understand the basics of entrepreneurship as they worked to launch their own business. During the week, the ideas and principles of business ownership were directly incorporated into students' personal business plans and ideas. Community business professionals volunteered each afternoon to help the students brainstorm business ideas and practice their business pitch.
On July 2nd, at CitySpace, the students pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, consisting of City Councilor Kathy Galvin, Computers4Kids Board member Colin Learmonth, and Toan Nguyen, owner of C'ville Coffee. All participating students exceeded the presentation requirements and were awarded start-up funding to launch their business. The top four finishers received additional funding. A reception was held at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion afterwards to celebrate the class' accomplishments.

The students' enthusiasm increased throughout the week, which made the inaugural class very memorable for teachers Dolly Joseph, Program Director at Computers, and Jason Ness, Office of Economic Development.

"The Start Your Own Business class has been a great experience", said Joseph. "The students worked hard and put a lot of effort into understanding the basics of business ownership. Throughout the week, the students became more familiar with business concepts and incorporating them into their own business plans."
The Youth Entrepreneurship Camp also helped OED build a community network and promote business ownership as a possible career. "The opportunity to collaborate with Computers4Kids has been a very rewarding experience for our office. One of the goals for the Office of Economic Development is to increase entrepreneurial opportunities for our community and the ability to accomplish that with a hands-on approach is terrific," said Jason Ness.

NEW FOOD CARTS ON THE DOWNTOWN MALL

This spring, Charlottesville has seen new food carts roll into town. Smoked BBQ Company and The Pie Guy debuted unique food options on the Downtown Mall.

Justin van der Linde, owner of Smoked BBQ Company, serves a variety of barbeque and homemade sides. Having been out of the restaurant business for a few years, van der Linde is glad to be back preparing food.

Justin Bagley, A.K.A. The Pie Guy, learned his trade during his time working in a pie shop in Australia. His pies come in a variety of options, offering breakfast, meat, vegetarian, and, of course, apple pies.

Technology has allowed these two business to bring a new style of food to the traditional food cart business. Using a battery similar to an electric car battery, Smoked BBQ provides enough power to run a refrigerator, griddle, and food warmer. While customers are ordering their food, van der Linde is able to toast buns and keep all of his sauces and side dishes at a consistent temperature.

The Pie Guy cart is custom made and was designed by Justin Bagley. The cart is equipped with a battery-powered freezer and functioning hand sink. Propane allows Bagley to display his pies in a warming case and bake his pies on-site. As the pies bake, pedestrians are able to smell the pies from the angled oven ventilation system, another design feature created by Bagley.

van der Linde and Bagley realize their new presence creates diversity and choices among food cart customers. As a way to capitalize, they have partnered with Patrick Kim, owner of Manu food truck, to create Charlottesville's first mobile food court. Debuting at Champion Brewery on June 18th, the businesses' collaboration allows customers to sample cuisine from three different continents in just a few minutes. The mobile food court will also be available for catering, private parties, and festivals.

During the weekday, Smoked BBQ operates next to the Free Speech Wall Wednesday - Saturday 11am-3pm. The Pie Guy is also next to the Free Speech Wall on Fridays but during the rest of the week, he can be found at the opposite end of the mall, near Mudhouse.

STRATEGIC ACTION TEAM REPORT

The Strategic Action Team (SAT) has finalized a comprehensive report entitled Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville. This report includes an overview of the workforce climate, barriers to employment, and recommendations of the team.

The SAT was formed at City Council's request in 2012 to examine workforce development opportunities for Charlottesville residents. The working group was comprised of twelve representatives from five City departments.

The report will be presented to City Council at a work session on Thursday, July 11th at 6pm at CitySpace.

CBIC HONORS TECHNOLOGY INNOVATORS AT ANNUAL GALA

On May 30th, over 230 people attended the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council's (CBIC) 15th Annual CBIC Awards Gala at Farmington Country Club. The event announced this year's seven award honorees. CBIC awards serve to recognize innovative achievements and leadership within the community. This year's winners were all City-based, with the exception of the Red Apple Award winner.

Toan Nguyen, owner of C'ville Coffee and founder of C'ville Central, won the People's Choice Navigator Award, a category that recognizes significant leadership in the local or regional entrepreneurial high tech community. The Rocket Award, given to an entity for rapid commercialization of a technology or product, was given to Hotelicopter, which was acquired by Roomkey in January 2012. The Spotlight Award went to WillowTree Apps, for bringing positive attention to the region as an innovation hub. The Breakthrough Award was given to Rivanna Medical for a breakthrough or quantum advance.

The Community Investment Collaborative won the Community Award, which is given to a CBIC member organization that has served as a role model for community volunteerism through their personal donation of both time and resources, or in the case of a company, through a corporate culture of giving time and resources. The Leadership Award was given to John Berryman of Opensource Connections for exemplary contributions to supporting and strengthening the organization. The Red Apple Award and Technology in Education Grant, given to a K-12 teacher for inspiring and preparing students to embrace the possibilities of technology, went to Jeff Prillaman of Albemarle High School.

FORWARD/ADELANTE RECOGNIZES LOCAL BUSINESS WITH CHUCK LEWIS AWARD

Forward/Adelante, Virginia' first bilingual business journal, hosted a celebration of business diversity on Tuesday, June 25th at the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville. The celebration honored Daisy and Geiner Rojas, of Rojas Stevens Painting, with the second annual Chuck Lewis Passion Award.

The event kicked off with networking amongst 150 local business owners and community members in the lobby with drinks and catering by Charlottesville's own Café Cubano. The program transitioned to a formal, sit-down gathering in the Founder's Lounge where Stephanie Nakasian and daughter Veronica, gave a festive jazz performance as the audience munched on Taste of Home's sweet treats catering.

Toan Nguyen, founder of C'ville Central, gave the keynote address. He expounded the many qualifications the Rojas' have demonstrated to earn the Chuck Lewis Passion Award. The award recognizes local businesses that contribute to the prosperity of the Charlottesville area. The Rojas' exceeded this stipulation with the determination to sustain their business in the face of an economic downturn and the challenges of taking care of a family. Nguyen apologized for getting personal when he shared that the Rojas' had to mortgage their house and cut their staff down to five people in order to keep their business going. But this persistence, Nguyen continued, was one of the many admirable traits the Rojas' had demonstrated both as a couple and as a business. The dedication, along with the quality of their work, has earned business from 25 employers from the Charlottesville area and such customers as The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.
Forward/Adelante bridges the language and culture gap to enable Spanish-speaking businesses to communicate with, and access the services and information offered by, English-speaking and more established counterparts.
 
CIC GRADUATION CEREMONY CELEBRATES LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS

On May 7th, the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) held its second graduation ceremony for emerging local entrepreneurs. Sixteen business owners completed the four month training course and a lively graduation, at CitySpace, celebrated the achievements of the class. Over 70 friends, family, and supporters were on hand to acknowledge all the hard work the class had accomplished over the last four months. The graduates were:

Lexi Hutchins - Kindred Collective
Sarah Frazer, Tenzin (Cake) Namdol - C'Ville Foodscapes
Sara Jansen Clayborne - Charlottesville Ballet
Sue Gass, Stephanie White - Stevie G's Gluten Free Bakery
Tyrone Sandidge - Professional Car Detailing
Yamina Mermer - Always Receiving Nur
Selena Cozart-O'Shaughnessy - Salome's Creations
Elizabeth James - The Happy Tomato
Nadjeeb Chouaf - Flora Artisanal Cheese
Cass Cannon - Peg's Salt
Trey Coe - The Mother Load
Terry & Denise Jones - Terry's Painting & Drywall Service
Luis Dorta - Bite-Sized Empanadas

CIC is a non-profit organization that provides support to entrepreneurs through a training course, mentoring, and a microloan program. The 16 week training course is available for new and existing businesses that walk participants through the technical needs of their business. To date, CIC has over 20 graduates operating businesses in the Charlottesville area.

Recruiting is now underway for CIC's next training course. Applications are now being accepted for the fall training course. The deadline to submit an application is July 5th and the first course beings September 3rd.

FRESHET URBAN CLOTHING OPENS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE

A new retail clothing store has opened, offering high-quality urban street and skateboarding apparel to Charlottesville. Freshet Urban Clothing opened earlier this month at its location, 824 Cherry Avenue, in Cherry Avenue Plaza. For owners Darryl and Tawanda Martin, this grand opening was a long time in the making. Both Darryl and Tawanda saved their money in hopes of opening Freshet. Early this spring, all the pieces started falling into place: they finally raised enough start-up capital, they found a great location within the community, and a clothing vendor was able to help them gather in-season clothing for their store to open on time.

While Freshet's main goal is to offer the latest urban fashions, Darryl and Tawanda see Freshet as a new member of the community. During the store's grand opening celebration on May 18th, Cherry Avenue Plaza was filled with customers and friends ready to celebrate a new, local business. For the grand opening, Freshet partnered with Liberty Tax, another business in the Cherry Avenue Plaza, and the Boys and Girls Club to create family friendly environment with music, arts, and food for everyone.

VIRGINIA EARNS 'A' GRADE FROM SMALL BUSINESSES

Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has released the second-annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey showing that Virginia continues to be a top state for small businesses, earning an 'A' grade for the ease of starting a business in the state and an 'A' overall.

"For the second year, Virginia set an outstanding example of providing a supportive environment for small business," said Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com. "Our research with thousands of small businesses points to the importance of clear and consistent regulations and relevant training programs, and these are exactly the areas where Virginia excels."

Some of the key findings for Virginia include:
• Small business owners ranked Virginia #6 for its overall business friendliness, up from #7 last year.
• The state also received an 'A' grade for its licensing regulations and tax codes, as well as an 'A' for its training and networking programs. Additionally, Virginia was ranked #4 for the quality of its online business resources.
• Nationally, professional licensing requirements were more important to small business owners than taxes in determining a state's overall business-friendliness, confirming the findings from last year's study.
• African-American and Hispanic small business owners were more likely than their white counterparts to encourage others to start a new business.
• The top ranking states overall were Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Texas. The lowest rated were Illinois, California, Hawaii, Maine and, in last place, Rhode Island.
• Among major cities nationwide, the Norfolk-Virginia Beach metro earned an A+ as the #2 city for small business. Richmond also fared well with a B+ overall grade. Washington DC and Baltimore received a 'B' and a 'C' grade, respectively.
• Virginia's lowest mark was an A- for its zoning regulations.

"It is critical to the economic health of every city and state to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment," said Dane Stangler, director of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "Policymakers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves."

CACVB TOURISM RECOGNITION AWARD WINNERS

On May 8th, the Charlottesville Albemarle Visitors Bureau (CACVB) hosted its annual Tourism Recognition Awards at Trump Winery. Almost 100 people showed up to honor those in the Charlottesville community who have significantly impacted the tourism and hospitality industry over the past year. Among those recognized was the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which received the 2013 Tourism Achievement Award for taking a lead role in the initiation and organization of the Presidents Passport partnership, a regional cooperative tourism marketing program. The CACVB also honored Piedmont Council for the Arts with the New Horizons Award for its leadership in developing Create Charlottesville, a community-based cultural plan to enhance quality of life and create economic development initiatives.

In addition to these recipients, several other members of the community who work in the tourism and hospitality industry were recognized for their commitment to excellence. Audrey Jeffries from Fellini's No. 9 received the award for Best Server, and Angelo Vangelopoulos from The Ivy Inn Restaurant received the award for Best Chef. Customer service awards were given to Katie Beazley from Charlottesville Parking Center (attractions), Bill Kerr from Camryn Limousine Service (transportation), and Joyce Kaswandik from Guesthouse Reservation Service (lodging). Chris Engel, the City of Charlottesville's Director of Economic Development, also received an award for leadership and services for his role as CACVB Board Chair from July 2010 to June 2012.

Congratulations to all the award winners!

LOOK3 FESTIVAL RETURNS TO CHARLOTTESVILLE

LOOK3, the Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph, will once again take place on the Downtown Mall from June 11th to June 15th. The Festival will kick off at the Paramount Theater on June 12th at 7:30pm with the event's hallmark TREES Talk exhibit, which will feature wildlife photographer, Tim Laman's photographs of Papua New Guinea's birds of paradise. As part of the exhibit, majestic images from nature are suspended on banners high in the trees along Charlottesville's outdoor pedestrian mall. The TREES exhibition is ecologically centered to promote environmental awareness and conservation.

Other Festival features include: SHOTS and WORKS, an evening of projections in the nTelos Wireless Pavilion; Insight Artists, a 3-night event hosting artist who have helped define the art of picture-making; and the 69th annual Pictures of the Year International awards exhibit.
 
NEW WOMEN'S BOUTIQUE OPENS ON THE CORNER

On Monday, April 14th, Bluetique Cheap Chic, opened in Charlottesville. The store's grand opening on the Corner, located at 111 14th Street NW, was very well attended with eager customers lining down 14th Street before the doors opened. Bluetique offers a selection of preppy, trendy, and game day apparel that caters towards young women, all at affordable prices.

Bluetique's business model combines the goal of providing cute and fun clothes at fabulous prices with a concerted effort for the business to become part of the local college community. This strategy has allowed Bluetique to rapidly increase their store locations.

Established in 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky, Bluetique's success has now grown to five stores in other college towns: Bowling Green, KY, Oxford, OH, and recently, Harrisonburg, VA and Charlottesville. Bluetique has plans to expand to Knoxville, Tennessee and Raleigh, North Carolina later in 2013.

Please join us in welcoming this new business to the City of Charlottesville!
 
CEDA RECOGNIZED FOR JEFFERSON SCHOOL CITY CENTER

The Charlottesville Economic Authority (CEDA) was recently recognized by the Virginia Downtown Developers Association (VDDA) for the continued efforts with the Jefferson School Community Center.

On Thursday, April 4, 2013, during the VDDA's Annual Awards Luncheon at the Union Train Station in Downtown Petersburg, Jason Ness accepted the award on behalf of the current and past CEDA Board for their important role in making this a successful project.

The Awards of Excellence are presented to showcase the achievements of organizations, individuals, and government in meeting the challenges of downtown management and revitalization. The award criterion was to recognize excellence in building improvements and redevelopment projects. Nominations included public or private real estate development, building improvements and adaptive re-use projects.

The $18 million dollar project was completed in December of 2012, with a grand opening in January of the following year. CEDA has been involved in this effort and continues to manage the City's loan to the Jefferson School Foundation for the project.

BIOTECH EDUCATION SYMPOSIUM IN CHARLOTTESVILLE

The Charlottesville/Albemarle County community is sponsoring a Life Sciences Education Summit as part of the upcoming Celebration of the Biosciences in Virginia hosted by Virginia Bio to be held at Boars Head Inn on May 2. The Education Summit will bring together area educators, government officials, biotechnology industry representatives and economic developers for an energetic conversation focused on the future of STEM-H education in the Charlottesville/Albemarle community. Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Health (STEM-H) education is a leading strategy for establishing the region as a hot spot where the life sciences flourish.

The morning-long STEM-H Education Summit is focused on developing actionable outcomes that will encourage early scientific interest in our schools, develop career pathways, and nurture our life sciences industry. Remarks from the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation will kick off the event, followed by a look at Central Virginia's current STEM-H education and workforce development programs. Most importantly, participants will identify the next steps in building important partnerships between educators and industry leaders.

"We looked up and saw an emerging community of life science interests. To support this environment with the necessary workforce, we need to create educational pathways at all levels." said Tom Thorpe, President of Afton Scientific based in Albemarle County.

The summit is part of a series of events celebrating biosciences in Virginia on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Virginia Bio, which will culminate that evening with a statewide reception and banquet. Virginia Bio is the statewide organization promoting commercialization of the life sciences in Virginia. It promises to be the most comprehensive and largest gathering of Virginia's life sciences industry in memory.
 
EXPANSION OF THE DARDEN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS INCUBATOR

University of Virginia's Darden School of Business has expanded its business incubator allowing it to become a year-round facility and has doubled the number of businesses it can incubate to 25. The W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory, known as the i.Lab, opened on April 11th after the $1.3 million dollar expansion. It features a new room for presentations, a location for Skype meetings, a suite of offices, and a kitchen area. Another change is that startups applying to incubate their business ideas no longer need to have a Darden student onboard. Now anyone from the University's schools, or the Charlottesville community, can apply.

According to Michael Lenox, associate dean and executive director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Darden, "We've long observed that our students in the business school benefit immensely from others in the University. You pair an engineering student with a medical student and a business student and good things happen." For those entrepreneurs that did not receive a spot in the i.Lab, they can get coaching there and students will also be able to take courses created for the i.Lab, which will be team taught by faculty across several disciplines.

WORKSHOP ON STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

On Wednesday, May 8th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Piedmont Housing Alliance will be offering a free informational session for entrepreneurs considering starting a business.

The session will be held at Piedmont Housing Alliance's office at 1215 E. Market St. The workshop topics will include:

• How to take the first steps
• The cost of being in business, including start-up costs and financial stability
• Current resources available
• Information about the Virginia Individual Development Account (VIDA) and CIC, the Community Investment Collaborative

For more information, or to reserve a seat, please call (434) 817-2436.

PB & J FUND PARTNERS WITH ALLOY WORKSHOP

Alloy Workshop, a local Architecture/Construction firm, was recently selected by the PB&J Fund to design the non-profit's new after school kitchen space in downtown Charlottesville. Emily Wampler, PB& J Executive Director, approached Dan Zimmerman, Partner/Architect at Alloy, earlier this year as the organization began a search for space to house its burgeoning kid-centric nutritional and culinary-focused initiatives.

Working to address food insecurity and childhood obesity, The PB&J Fund connects Charlottesville youth with the resources and knowledge necessary to develop a healthy diet. In the last few years, PB&J forged partnerships with Children Youth and Family Services (CYFS), The Boys and Girls Club, Charlottesville City Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Westhaven After School Program, among others, to create exciting, hands-on culinary and nutritional education programs for children and their families.

To continue with their excellent work and expand services within the community, PB&J collaborated with Alloy Workshop to design a playful, imaginative kid-friendly space which will include a commercially certified kitchen for cooking classes, a kids cafe, and office space. PB&J believes the expansion will strengthen existing partnerships while simultaneously enhancing and expanding programming. "Having partnered with Computers 4 Kids in the design of their after school space, and admiring the work of other non-profits with dynamic after school programming, such as the Music Resource Center and Light House Studio, we're thrilled to work with Emily and PB&J to create a vibrant gathering place for children and their families. We believe PB&J will lead the way in modeling sustainable food education for surrounding communities. And we're honored to play a small part," says Zimmerman.

PB&J hopes to have its doors open to the community for Fall 2013 programming.

2013 CITY OF CHARLOTTESVILLE CATERING EXPO

On March 28th, over 20 local catering companies participated in the first City of Charlottesville Catering Expo. The Office of Economic Development, Procurement and Risk Management, and Neighborhood Development Services partnered to host this event as a platform for local businesses to be recognized and expand business opportunities.

As part of the Catering Expo, these businesses provided samples of their cuisine, menus and business cards. Most importantly, these businesses were able to network face-to-face with over 50 City employees who purchase catering for community events. "This was a great event that I really enjoyed. I learned about so many new businesses and also about existing businesses that I didn't realized offered catering services. I met some caterers that our department will definitely be using in the future", said one City buyer.

Prior to this event, these same departments hosted an informational Catering Workshop for City-based Small, Women and Minority Owned (SWaM) businesses, as well as Section 3 qualified businesses, to provide an understanding of how to conduct business with the City of Charlottesville. The workshop sessions included a presentation by an advertising and marketing professional, discussions covering the City's procurement process, how to become a registered City vendor and the importance of becoming SWaM certified.

CEDA RECOGNIZES ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OUTGOING BOARD MEMBERS

At its March meeting, the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA) recognized outgoing board members Bryan Wright and Bob Stroh for their contributions to Authority.

Mr. Wright served on the CEDA board for two terms and the unexpired portion of another term and Mr. Stroh served for two full terms. Mr. Wright served as chair in 2009 and as vice chair in 2008 and 2012.

Mr. Wright and Mr. Stroh were recognized for their service to the City on this board which in recent years has played a critical role in supporting important capital investments such as Phase One of the Hillsdale Drive/Whole Foods project, Waterhouse and the Jefferson School City Center.

jean theory: TO OPEN NEW, ECO-FRIENDLY STORE IN BARRACKS ROAD

jean theory: is excited to announce a new store opening in the North Wing of Barrack's Road Shopping Center. "Trade," an eco-friendly resale clothing store, will pay patrons up front in cash for their gently worn designer label clothing. An even higher offer will be made in store credit, which will be redeemable at both Trade and jean theory: (currently located on the Downtown Pedestrian Mall, facebook.com/jeantheory).

The positive impact on the environment: Because the items
for sale have been previously purchased from another source, no new materials, fuel, or energy were used to produce them. Trade will also focus on following green business practices, including the use of recycled shopping bags.

The positive impact on the economy: Not only is the concept locally owned and operated, the inventory is purchased from local residents, putting cash directly in their hands.

The positive impact on your wallet: Never before have shoppers received store credit for selling their clothing to one store, with the option of using it to purchase brand new items at another. By introducing Trade, jean theory: is giving shoppers a chance to truly put into practice "out with the old, in with the new."

Trade will carry forward jean theory:'s well-organized, friendly environment and high level of service. The two stores together will revolutionize the women's retail clothing industry by providing only the best in both resale clothing (at Trade), and 'new' essentials like jeans, tops, dresses, and accessories (at jean theory:), while having a positive impact on the environment, the economy, and your wallet.

Trade is slated to open in April of 2013.
 
COMMUNITY JOB FAIR, MAY 1ST AT JOHN PAUL JONES ARENA

It's that time of year again! Join us at the 2012 Charlottesville Community Spring Job Fair, which will be held on Wednesday, May 1st from 10:00am until 3:00pm at John Paul Jones Arena. As the largest job fair of its kind in Central Virginia, last year's Charlottesville Community Job Fair put nearly 1,200 job seekers in contact with over 80 organizations, and event organizers anticipate an even larger employer turnout this spring.

The job fair is free and open to all job seekers, but pre-registration is strongly suggested. To view a list of participating employers, or pre-register for the event, please visit the job fair WEBSITE. If you are an employer looking for qualified candidates to fill your open positions, employer registration information is also available on the website. If you have any questions about the event, please contact Hollie Lee in the City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development, at 434-970-3117.
 
CHAMPION TUTORING LAUNCHES ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Champion Tutoring announces the launch of Champion Adult Learning Academy, or CALA. This initiative is part of Champion's major 2013 brand expansion, which also includes a series of college and career workshops for young adults.

The first young adult workshop, "Life After High School: College, Career, & Beyond," will take place on Saturday, May 18th from 12:00-2:00pm at Champion's office in Ivy Square Shopping Center. This workshop will help students answer 'big picture' questions such as: What should I study in college, and which major should I choose? What is the best career path for me? Workshop leader and Career Facilitator Leslie Chisholm will use various interactive assessment tools designed to help students think more analytically about their interests and work values.

Ms. Chisholm explains that these assessment tools "will provide students with a piece of their career 'puzzle,' allowing them to make informed decisions during college, and giving direction to their career plans after college." Our objective, she adds, is "to give students and parents hope-hope that all their time, money, and hard work in college will better prepare them for the workforce." Ultimately, she explains, "our goal is your goal, and that of every working person: to find a fulfilling career path."

This workshop is just the first of many new offerings at Champion Tutoring. The launch of CALA signals the company's first major foray into Adult and Continuing Education. "Champion has always welcomed students of all ages, and throughout the years we've helped many adult learners," explains Owner and President, Anna C. Patchias, PhD. And in this challenging economic climate, Dr. Patchias affirms that "Champion can help adults in the midst of career transitions, or those who desire greater opportunities for professional growth and personal enrichment."

Champion Tutoring is Charlottesville's oldest locally owned and operated tutoring company, providing high-quality, one-on-one teaching since 1994.
 
C'VILLE CENTRAL HOSTS UPCOMING EVENT ON APRIL 8TH AT 5:30PM

Small businesses that provide home repair, cleaning, landscaping, and painting have a new way to reach a larger base of residential and commercial clients: C'ville Central. C'ville Central kicks off with a launch event Monday, April 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road.

C'ville Central brings together small, women, and minority owned businesses with residential and commercial clients they may not otherwise reach.

"Our mission is to harness the region's economic power and channel it to businesses in the Charlottesville region," says C'ville Central co-founders Toan Nguyen and Betsy Patrick, who together own C'ville Coffee.

At the April 8 event, Toan Nguyen will discuss the opportunities C'ville Central offers to qualified businesses and how they can increase their revenue as a member of C'ville Central.

To celebrate this jumpstart for local business, officials including, Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja and Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek, and Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Hulbert. "The support from the City and County at all levels of government has been amazing," Nguyen says.

Two Charlottesville Neighborhood Leadership Institute participants, Mary Alex and Amy Lemley, who lent expertise to the launch and related marketing and communications for C'ville Central, along with Director of Communications Caroline Harris and videographer, Stacia Harris, from the Allora Group Productions, will also be on hand.
 
2012 OED ANNUAL REPORT

The 2012 Annual Report of the Office of Economic Development (OED) has been released. It was certainly an exciting year for Charlottesville, with large development projects, community initiatives, training seminars, and business assistance workshops occurring regularly. All of these events and investments were in line with the two overarching goals of the OED: creating a strong and diversified economy and promoting a business environment that provides career ladder advancement opportunities.

By means of the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA), several major development projects were commenced or completed during this past year. The CFA Institute's global operations center is undergoing a $40 million renovation to occupy the former Martha Jefferson Hospital. Also, the historic Jefferson School City Center has been renovated and is now the home of Carver Recreation Center, the African American Heritage Center, and several non-profits. Finally, the $20 million Waterhouse project, a 90,000 sq. ft. mixed use development, is now the headquarters of WorldStrides, a student travel business with over 300 employees.

Several business development initiatives were undertaken as well this past year. The Chamber Minority Business Council (CMBC) was established and hosted its inaugural Minority Business Conference in September, offering advice on starting and growing a business, as well as other business tips. Furthermore, the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC) was established in 2012, offering training and capital to entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing funds from traditional sources. The OED was pleased to offer four scholarships to City residents to complete this program.

The OED was also very active in workforce development initiatives. The Charlottesville Community Spring Job Fair took place in April, bringing together nearly 90 employers and 1,200 job seekers. Also, the inaugural Charlottesville Community Career Conference was held in October, in place of the regularly occurring fall job fair, allowing job seekers to learn about employment trends and opportunities in the community.

For further details, the full version of the report is available ONLINE.

CHARLOTTLESVILLE JANUARY 2013 VACANCY STUDY

Charlottesville's biannual vacancy study was completed in January. This was the tenth study in a series of semi-annual reports prepared by the Office of Economic Development, starting in July of 2008. With an overall retail vacancy rate of 2.88% (13 vacancies), Charlottesville is well below the suburban Virginia average of 6.80%. This rate was reduced slightly from 3.10% in July 2012 due to reduced vacancies on the Downtown Mall, Preston Plaza, and McIntire Plaza. The rate remains comparable to the July 2008 pre-recession rate of 3.10%.

The Downtown Mall specifically saw several changes. The vacancy rate was reduced from the July 2012 study from 2.08% to 1.04%. In total, there were only 2 vacancies on the Downtown Mall. Also, there have been 7 newly occupied properties since July 2012.
Of the other major shopping centers in Charlottesville - Barracks Road, the Corner, Preston Plaza, Seminole Square, and McIntire Plaza - there was a reduction of vacancies in all but two. The Corner's vacancy rate remained constant at 1.69%, while Seminole Square was the only shopping center to experience a rise in its vacancy rate, increasing from 7.55% in July 2012 to 13.21%.
The decrease in the overall vacancy rate from July 2012 (3.10% to 2.88%) equates to 1 less vacancy across the City. This suggests that the retail situation in Charlottesville is stable, as empty storefronts in general do not stay vacant for long periods of time. Further details on the areas examined in the study and the methodology used are included in the full report, CLICK HERE.
 
2012 ECONOMIC TRENDS INDICATE POSITIVE NEWS
 
Charlottesville's economy demonstrated continued strengthening over the past year. With the local 2012 tax figures being reported, 2012 continues to show increasing consumer confidence locally. Sales, meals, and lodging taxes increased a collective 6.9% from 2011.
As economists are quick to point out, consumer spending is the benchmark to test confidence in the stability of the economy. The increase in taxes collected demonstrates the gradual rebound the local economy has seen since 2008. At that time, Charlottesville saw decreases in spending in all three categories in 2009. Since then, a 15%, or $2.6 million, increase has occurred over the last 3 years.
 
These tax figures reiterate other positive economic trends seen in Charlottesville during 2012. A few examples are:
• 5 year low in Downtown Mall retail vacancies
• Increase in home sales in 2012
• Lowest unemployment rate since 2008
 
C-VILLE ENTREPRENEURS ANNOUNCE B-CORP TO ASSIST SMALL BUSINESSES

In February, Toan Nguyen and Betsy Patrick announced the formation of C'ville Central, a Benefit Corporation with the mission of harnessing the region's economic power and channeling it to small, women, and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses in the Charlottesville region. C'ville Central is a general contractor that contracts with residential and institutional markets in the Charlottesville area.

Currently, there are four divisions: cleaning services, handyman services, landscaping, and painting. Residential and large institutions will contract directly with C'ville Central for services and C'ville Central will be responsible for the delivery and quality of those services.

SWaM businesses often face challenges in key areas such as marketing, customer service, and cash flow management. Additionally, these businesses are too small to be able to respond to the bid and proposal requests from large institutions. Member businesses of C'ville Central receive benefits that offset those obstacles, such as advertising exposure, superior customer management systems, and a guaranteed 7-day payment plan. C'ville Central functions as an aggregator, uniting small contractors to bid on large contracts and then subbing out work to member businesses while maintaining a high standard of quality, and professional service, with an emphasis on dependability and personal relationships.

C'ville Central will serve as a critical link between the anchor institutions in Charlottesville (UVA, Martha Jefferson, PVCC) and small, local businesses. This link will ultimately lead to job creation in the region.

On April 8th, the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce will co-sponsor an information session with C'ville Central which SWaM businesses can attend to learn about C'ville Central. The event will be held at the Albemarle County Office Building at 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.
 
V.I.D.A. OFFERING BUSINESS GROWTH ASSISTANCE

Breaking Boundaries: Your V.I.D.A. Factor for Strategic Business Growth

What would you do if you had nothing holding you back? What kind of business would you build?

If you are a Visionary or Innovator ready to take your current business to the next level or you're embarking on your first entrepreneurial venture, V.I.D.A. created this seminar with you in mind. This seminar will...
• Identify & address greatest challenges in your business right now.
• Provide you with new ideas, trends, business models & innovation opportunities, plus a process to make sure they are integrated into your business.
• Create a practical plan and a dashboard with metrics specific to your business to track your progress.
When: Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 8am-5pm
Where: Hilton Garden Inn, 1793 Richmond Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22911

Here's what you get when you sign up:

TWO Tickets. Successful businesses have a team of people behind them, so you'll get a total of TWO (2) tickets to the seminar. Bring your partner, spouse or assistant as your guest, FREE!

Additional Training, Accountability & Support. After the seminar, join Gerardo Jimenez & Kristy Hall of V.I.D.A. for FOUR weeks of additional training & accountability online. In webinars and live Q & A calls will cover: Financials, Sales, Client Retention/Customer Service, & Operational Effectiveness.

Individual Session on YOUR business. Included with the seminar is a live, (1) hour coaching session, focused only on your business.

Sign up today. Space is limited! - www.vidafactor.com/seminars

WORKSOURCE ENTERPRISES TO HOLD INFORMATION MEETINGS

WorkSource Enterprises will hold a series of informational meetings on Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19 to help raise awareness of the nonprofit and its mission among area residents. Each informative one-hour meeting will provide people with an overview of the nonprofit and its various programs to help adults with vocational disabilities.

"Many people may know the name 'WorkSource Enterprises' but not really know what it is we do," said Charles J. McElroy, president of WorkSource Enterprises. "BreadWorks, the popular bakery and deli on Preston Avenue and at Northridge, is one of our programs, but there are several other programs we're running that are not as well known. We held information meetings last fall, and people learned about our programs and why they are so necessary for our clients and our community."

The meetings will be held on Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19 at WorkSource Enterprises' offices at 1311 Carlton Avenue in east Charlottesville. The meetings will be held at noon and 5:30 on each day.

People interested in attending one of the information sessions should contact Bruce Cauthen at (434) 972-1730 or by email, cauthen@worksourceva.org. Refreshments will be provided, and the meetings are FREE, but registration is required to ensure there are enough refreshments for everyone.
 
PEACHMAC ANNOUNCES NEW STORE

The first days of 2013 brought good news to Apple fans in Charlottesville; they  no longer will have to travel for all their Apple products, support, and service. PeachMac, a full-service independently owned Apple store, announced plans to open their first Virginia-based retail store at Barracks Road Shopping Center later this year.

While this area has many Authorized Sales Providers, the nearest Authorized Service Provider for Mac products is over 50 miles away. With the opening of PeachMac, Charlottesville residents can take their products to PeachMac for the same type of services offered at Apple stores in Richmond and the DC Metro area. According to PeachMac's website, their stores "carry everything you could ever want or need for your Mac, iPad, iPod, iPhone, or AppleTV; a far wider selection than you will find in any other local retail store with over 1,500 items available in each store."

An additional feature is the availability of walk-in service for repairs and troubleshooting. PeachMac also holds free training sessions and membership based support services. With Charlottesville seen as a technology hub for the region, many people held the idea that Charlottesville would be a great fit for an Apple store. This notion was reaffirmed by Experian research, ranking Charlottesville as the 16th highest population of Apple users, per capita, in the country. Now, PeachMac will have the opportunity to serve all the local Mac customers.

Peach Mac plans to hire 15 - 20 employees and, once renovations are complete, will open this spring.

SEARCH MOJO EXPERIENCES 43% GROWTH IN 2012

Search Mojo, a Charlottesville-based search engine founded in 2005, experienced a 43% growth in 2012. Even in the seemingly slow hiring month of December, the company hired several new employees. According to Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo, "Our growth has facilitated the need for employee hiring, a strong statement that small businesses can grow in this economy. We are in the right market, our growth reflects the upturn of the job market, and our industry is doing well - all contributing to the upward momentum our firm has experienced this year."

In addition, Search Mojo recently celebrated its seventh anniversary. They also ranked on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing businesses in America.

JEFFERSON SCHOOL CITY CENTER OFFICIALLY OPENS

The Jefferson School City Center held its official opening on January 19th. Several hundred people attended the grand opening ceremony of the newly renovated school, marking a decade long effort to save a vital piece of African American history in Charlottesville.

The $18 million dollar project preserved much of the historical value of the 90 year old building, but renovations included state-of-the-art upgrades such as energy conservation and efficiency systems, hi-speed internet cabling, access control systems, elevators, park-like grounds, and convenient onsite parking in a newly built 2-level parking deck.

Inside the new space, the African American Heritage Center and the 33,000 square foot Carver Recreation Center serve as the anchor tenants. A diverse group of community non-profits will also offer services. JABA will host two distinct operations, the Vinegar Hill Café, serving breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and an intergenerational community center. Martha Jefferson Hospital will have nurses onsite to educate families on leading a healthy lifestyle by offering nutritional counseling and health assessments. PVCC plans to begin a new culinary arts program in an expansive commercial kitchen, with Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle, the Women's Initiative, Piedmont YMCA, and Common Grounds Healing Arts also providing resources and services.

CHARLOTTESVILLE SHINES IN GAP 50 ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS

The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) recently honored 50 entrepreneurs - recognized by peer entrepreneurs - as most likely to build Virginia's next generation life science, technology, and energy companies. Fifteen of the fifty recognized were from the Charlottesville area and are currently involved in growing a local business. This type of continuing recognition helps solidify Charlottesville's reputation as a hotbed for technology development and entrepreneurship. Congratulations to all recipients and finalists and thank you for all you do to help grow the Virginia economy.

FORWARD/ADELANTE & V.I.D.A. HOST FREE TRAINING

Forward/Adelante and V.I.D.A. are partnering to provide an exclusive FREE six-week video training series, delivered right to Forward/Adelante subscribers' inbox in January. This program for entrepreneurs and business owners will provide you with resources and tools you can use right away in your business.

Week 1: Four "Secrets" Achievers Use to Get Results

Week 2: Genius at Work: Having Your Best Year Ever

Week 3: You Can Do It! Real Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles

Week 4: Business Models - Do You Have the Right One?

Week 5: Improving What You've Got: Your Clients & Customers as Inspiration for Innovation

Week 6: How do I Get Real Results? The Simple Answer.

The series includes bonus templates and other resources, so be ready to get to work! Be focused, be disciplined, be consistent. Greatness is created by determination.
 
CFA GROUNDBREAKING IN DOWNTOWN

CFA Institute held an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of renovations for its new downtown offices on November 1st. Located in the former Martha Jefferson Hospital, CFA has started the process of transforming a medical center into the new global headquarters for this international company. In a well-attended event, CFA hosted representatives from Brussels, Hong Kong, and London, as well as local officials and guests.

This event culminated the planning and development process that led CFA to locating in downtown Charlottesville. The City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development partnered with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and Governor McDonnell's office to secure a grant to ensure this local business remained in the area. The ability to utilize the Governor's Opportunity Fund assisted CFA in consolidating several separate office buildings located in our region into one new home.

Currently, CFA has almost 400 employees and plans to add additional staff when the construction is complete. CFA intends to occupy approximately 140,000 square feet after renovations, with the remaining space reserved for 80,000 square feet of commercial use and 40 residential units for lease. To accommodate the increase in staff, on-site parking will be expanded to limit the impact for the neighborhood residents.

Bringing CFA into this vacant property ensures the economic vitality of the neighborhood. Many of Martha Jefferson's outlying properties have also begun the transformation back to residential homes or are being upgraded to new commercial space.

Renovations and remodeling of the CFA building are scheduled to last until the fall of 2013.

CHAMPION TUTORING ANNOUNCES MAJOR BRAND EXPANSION

Champion Tutoring, Charlottesville's oldest locally owned and operated tutoring company, is proud to announce two important brand expansions in 2013.

On January 3, 2013, Champion Tutoring will present "Life After High School: College, Career, & Beyond," the first in a new series of academic and career workshops. This 2-hour interactive workshop is designed to help students think more critically about their transition to college, including how to chart a course of study that will lead to meaningful career opportunities. The ultimate goal is to help students choose a career path that aligns most strongly with their interests and values, and then to find fulfilling work.

Champion is equally proud and excited to announce its new collaboration with 4 Star Camps, our area's premier academic and athletic summer program. Since 1998, 4 Star Camps has hosted students from all over the world at the University of Virginia, attracting hundreds of campers each year to the Charlottesville area. Champion Tutoring and 4 Star camps have worked together for the past two summers, and now, in an expanded role, Champion will design and implement all of the camp's academic programs.

This collaboration is an "exciting opportunity for both of our companies," says Patrick and Patti Kearns, Co-Owners and Directors of 4 Star Camps. Adds Patrick, "these new programs developed [by Champion Tutoring] for the 2013 season will be important to the long term success of our camps."

Champion Tutoring has been providing high-quality, one-on-one tutoring since first opening its doors in 1994. Owner Anna C. Patchias, PhD is proud of the company's longevity and its dedication to customer service. Dr. Patchias adds, "both of these brand expansions are consistent with Champion's commitment to pedagogical excellence."

For more information about Champion Tutoring, please call (434) 984-2821, email office@championtutoring.com.
 
2ND ANNUAL LOCAL FOOD HUB AWARD

On October 25th, the Local Food Hub held the 2nd Annual Community Food Awards at its Ivy warehouse. The event helped celebrate the advent of the Local Food Hub, which started three years ago, and seeks to serve as a liaison between growers and buyers.

In doing so, it helps to create economic opportunity for area farmers and enable healthier eating habits for residents. Over the past two years, the Local Food Hub has helped to put over $1 million dollars into the hands of local food producers while partnering with other similar groups in the area to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for our schools and hospitals. The 2012 Community Food Awards included:

Farmers:
Agricultural Endurance Award: Tim & Sarah Henley, Henley's Orchard
Pioneer in the Field Award: Susan & Scott Hill, Hill Farm
Partner Producer of the Year: Nathan Yoder & Family, Shady Lane Family Farm

Buyers:
Institutional Leader Award: Tom Cervelloni, Darden Foundation
Trailblazer Award: Trey Holt, St. Anne's Belfield School
Small Business, Big Impact Award: Bill Calvani, Rebecca's Natural Foods 
 
GUADALAJARA RESTAURANT AWARDED THE CHUCK LEWIS III PASSION AWARD FOR ECONOMIC IMPACT
 
Local bilingual business magazine Forward/Adelante presented the inaugural Chuck Lewis III Passion Award on Tuesday, October 23rd at CitySpace. More than 50 people showed up to honor Chuck Lewis and the recipient of this year's award, the Lopez and Ornelas family of Guadalajara.
 
Chuck Lewis III was a legendary Charlottesville native, born in 1939. He was a community leader, an author, a success in four different industries, and a man who, even after his death in 2010, continues to inspire others. Among his legacies are York Place on the Downtown Mall and Kathy's Produce, which he sold in 1995. The name of the award is fitting given Mr. Lewis's passion for business and entrepreneurship in Charlottesville.
 
The Lopez and Ornelas families received the Chuck Lewis III Passion Award for their significant entrepreneurial accomplishments in Charlottesville. For the past 25 years, the Lopez and Ornelas families have provided economic prosperity to the community, with service and involvement at the local level. They opened Guadalajara, Charlottesville's first authentic Mexican restaurant, at 805 East Market Street, in 1988. Their business philosophy is founded on a sound work ethic, family values, and supreme customer service.
 
Today, their enterprise expands to five restaurants in the Greater Charlottesville area with several real estate ventures in surrounding cities. Their passion and perseverance has created employment opportunities for the people of Charlottesville, not to mention delicious flavors to many happy palates! Their entrepreneurship has been recognized and appreciated by the Chuck Lewis III Award, continuing Mr. Lewis's inspiring entrepreneurial spirit and encouraging local businesses to follow in his footsteps.
 
Congratulations to Guadalajara on receiving this award and to Forward/Adelante for its contributions to the Charlottesville business community over the past four and a half years.
 
INAUGURAL COMMUNITY CAREER CONFERENCE
 
On Wednesday October 3rd, the City of Charlottesville held its inaugural Charlottesville Community Career Conference at John Paul Jones Arena. Twenty-five local employers were on hand to talk to job seekers about employment opportunities in a wide variety of fields. The Career Conference also featured panel discussions on the major employment industries in our area, including health care, technology/defense, staffing, hospitality/tourism, government, education, and professional careers. Through the one-on-one interactions and panels, job seekers were able to connect with recruiters and gain in depth information about the skills they need to pursue careers in these fields.
 
To help aspiring entrepreneurs, the conference also featured an entrepreneur resource area with successful business owners and business assistance groups. There was also a resource area to help job seekers with resumes, interviews, and online job searches.
 
Almost 400 job seekers attended the conference, making it a great success. The City of Charlottesville looks forward to next year's Community Career Conference and hopes to help more job seekers in the future.

9TH ANNUAL TECH TOUR WRAP UP
 
Last Thursday marked the 9th annual Tech Tour. It was a great day of engaging students about their futures and showcasing the dynamic, high technology careers in this region. This was the largest Tech Tour ever, with over 400 students participating from 21 different schools, including 85 students from Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School.
 
Sixty three technology-based companies and organizations volunteered their time and space to host 86 separate tours for the students. These local businesses opened their doors to allow students to envision themselves as technology employees, professionals and entrepreneurs in the next wave of high tech advancements in our area.
 
Students had access to a wide variety of companies. Groups saw a live crash test at the International Institute for Highway Safety and learned how apps are created, at Willowtree Apps, in downtown Charlottesville. Other groups had access to secure facilities at DIA and NGIC, while others toured Cardboard Safari, Crown Auto, CustomInk, and the airport. Some also met with staff from biotechnologies companies like Hemoshear, Zygem, and Indoor Biotechnologies.
The largest accomplishment from the tour was the ability to raise the amount of the CBIC Tech Tour Scholarship fund. With an increase in business support, two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded next spring to Tech Tour attendees!
 
LOCAL BUSINESSES LEARN ABOUT INTERNATIONAL TRADE OPPORTUNITIES
 
On October 24th, Albemarle County Economic Development and the City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development hosted an informative International Trade event. Experts from around Virginia were on hand to present useful information on business practices and opportunities to increase revenue with international exposure. Carl Porter, of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), discussed programs available to small businesses to assist in learning about international trade and the resources VEDP has to help research, plan, and take the action steps needed for Virginia business to enter the international markets. Carl Sachs, Director of Culpeper County Economic Development, and Cornelia Steinert, Senior Manager at PointTrade Inc., presented information on how manufacturing business can improve their bottom line by utilizing Free Trade Zones. Both Mr. Sachs and Ms. Steinert had great insight on how successful businesses around Virginia can maximize their potential by using Free Trade Zones.
 
If you were not able to attend and interested in learning more information about these programs, please contact Albemarle County Economic Development at 296-5841 or the City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development at 970-3110.
 
BUSINESSES NEEDED FOR REHABILITATION PROJECT
 
Community Housing Partners (CHP) is embarking on a large rehabilitation project at the Blue Ridge Commons site in the City of Charlottesville. CHP is partnering with the City's Section 3 program to seek out local eligible Section 3 businesses that can do the following type of work: certified arborist for tree removal, stump grinder, sidewalks, small general contractor to build small garages, landscaping, mason - minor brick repair, cleaning, paving, pavement marking, security camera system, electrician, HVAC installation, signs, and duct cleaning.
 
Your business may qualify as a Section 3 business if it is located within the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Greene County, Fluvanna County, or Nelson County AND it meets one of the following criteria:
• 51% or more of your business is owned by a low income resident (or residents); OR at least 30% of full-time employees are low-income residents; OR your business is committed to subcontracting 25% of the dollar award of all subcontracts to Section 3 businesses.
• You must use the HUD income guidelines for year Fiscal Year 2012 to determine if a person is low-income.  See the chart below:
  
Contact Tierra Howard at howardti@charlottesville.org if you are interested or if you know a business that may qualify and is interested.

WORKSOURCE ENTERPRISES CELEBRATES 45 YEARS
 
This month, WorkSource Enterprises will celebrate its 45th anniversary with a special luncheon at noon on Thursday, November 1st at the WorkSource offices located at 1311 Carlton Avenue. The luncheon will also serve to recognize October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
 
WorkSource Enterprises was started in 1967 by a group of parents who sought employment opportunities for their adult children with disabilities. Formerly known as the "Charlottesville - Albemarle Workshop Association" (1967-1976) and then "Workshop V" (1976-1992), WorkSource Enterprises provided a sheltered workshop where persons with disabilities could assemble materials.  Since its founding, WorkSource Enterprises has added many new programs to provide additional opportunities.
 
Today, WorkSource Enterprises operates a production area where goods are assembled, a community job placement program which trains adults for jobs with area employers, BreadWorks, the popular local bakery and delicatessen, contract janitorial services for the federal government and a day support program which provides educational, recreational and pre-vocational activities to adults with more severe disabilities.
 
The luncheon will be provided by Dr. David Heilbronner, a local orthopedic surgeon and entrepreneur who, together with another orthopedic surgeon, has developed a line of barbecue sauces marketed under the "Bone Doctors BBQ" brand name.
 
Congratulations to WorkSource Enterprises on this huge milestone!
 

BARRACKS ROAD COMPLETES RENOVATION AND PLANS EXPANSION
 
Barracks Road, the oldest and largest shopping center in Charlottesville, has completed a significant façade renovation and recently announced plans to add more retail space. The renovation included the entrances to all stores and public areas and took over a year to fully complete. A grand reopening of the entire 487,000 square foot center will occur on October 12th from 6 to 9 pm.
 
Additional changes include a full renovation of the McDonald's, which is now complete, and early next year, a canopy renovation at Brixx and an interior renovation of the Kroger store. The center is also adding space along Emmet Street at the former location of the Shell station. The new building will create an additional 10,000 square feet of space and will likely include a variety of retailers and restaurants. The work is set to begin in March 2013 and the improvement is expected to take between 10 to 12 months to complete.
 
MAYER ELECTRIC SUPPLY OPENS NEW STORE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
 
There's a new place in town to buy conduit, Romex wire, and light switches. Mayer Electric Supply, a full-line wholesale-distributor of electrical products, recently opened its new location in the Ix Building located at 219 Elliot Avenue.
 
Having over 15,000 square feet, this new location is stocked with over $700,000 in electrical supplies and equipment, lighting, tools, communications, and factory automation equipment.
 
While the store is already open for business, the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held in October.
 
Welcome to Charlottesville, Mayer!

CHARLOTTESVILLE IS SUPER-COOL
 
What many City residents have known for years has officially been confirmed by TravelorMove.com, Charlottesville is one of the world's most "super cool" communities!
 
As part of a new website launch, TravelorMove.com compiled a list of top places to visit. Andy Brack, founder of TravelorMove.com said, "Charlottesville is a natural to be on any list of the world's super cool communities. With the beauty of Monticello and the university campus, its cosmopolitan downtown and outstanding quality of life, it's no wonder that Charlottesville ranks high on our list."
 
The new website upgrades will offer detailed information on each community, links to local media and fun facts. All of the different cities' webpages will be continually updated through Twitter feed. Follow Charlottesville's page at #TOMCharlottesville.
 
CELEBRATE 250 LOOKING FOR HISTORIC PICTURES OF AREA'S OLDEST BUSINESSES
 
In an effort to assist the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society and the community, Celebrate 250 is soliciting the community for historic photographs of the area to assist in compiling a more complete archive. Specifically, the Historical Society is looking for photographs of the area's oldest businesses for use in the next Celebrate 250 exhibit, Charlottesville's Business Pioneers, which debuts next month.  
 
Photographs should be sent in digital form to celebrate250@gmail.com. Submissions should include a contact name and phone number. Respondents should understand that photographs may be used by the Historical Society or Celebrate 250, without restriction, online and in print. In October, Celebrate 250 will also be working with Live Arts and the community to compile a more complete archive of historic photographs of African Americans and their contribution to our area. This effort will include a scanning component through area churches and businesses, as well as include the acceptance of digital photographs for a collection for the new Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.
 
Please see the list below of some of the area's oldest remaining City businesses. If you have photos of these businesses that you would like to share, please send them to celebrate250@gmail.com. For more information, please call the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society at 434-296-1492.
 
1834 - McGuire Woods
1855 - The Michie Company/LexisNexis
1872 - Hanckel-Citizens Insurance
1875 - Keller & George Jewelry
1882 - Richmond and Fishburne
1890 - Timberlake Drugs
1892 - Riverview Cemetery
1892 - The Daily Progress
1893 - Martin Hardwar
1893 - Better Living Inc. - Established as Charlottesville Lumber
1904 - Martha Jefferson Hospital
1907 - Gitchell's  Studio
1907 - Hill and Wood Funeral Home
1907 - M.C. Thomas/Grand Home Furnishings
1908 - Pepsi Cola Bottling of Central Virginia
1909 - Charlottesville Press - Established as Virginia Printing, Inc
1911 - Standard Produce
1912 - Snow's Garden Center
1912 - Jefferson Theater
1917 - J.F. Bell Funeral Home
1920 - Men's & Boy's Shop
1923 - Staples Barbershop
1923 - The Virginian Restaurant
1924 - New Dominion Book Shop
1925 - Greyhound - Established as Virginia Stage Lines Inc., then Trailways
1927 - Charlottesville Oil
1927 - Young Men's Shop
1928 - Midway Electric
1932 - WCHV
1934 - Teague Funeral Home
1935 - Riverside Lunch
1935 - Settle Tire
1935 -  Harry A. Wrights
1936 - Joker's Barbershop
 
Four City Firms Make the INC. 5000 List
 
Inc. Magazine recently released its list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the United States, and four Charlottesville-based firms have made the list. They include SNL Financial, WillowTree Apps, Search Mojo, and Silverchair Holdings.

SNL Financial, which provides news, data, and analysis across numerous business sectors, made the list for the fifth straight year. SNL's 2011 revenue topped $136 million, an increase of 58% over three years. During that same period, the company added 769 jobs for a total of 1,800 worldwide.

WillowTree Apps has been launching mobile apps from its downtown Charlottesville location since 2008. In addition to making the list for the first time, WillowTree landed in the 39th position in the software category nationwide and 1st in Virginia. The company experienced 804% revenue growth and added 24 jobs over three years. WillowTree accommodates its growing staff onsite at its headquarters just off the Downtown Mall, and none of the firm's work is outsourced overseas.

According to CEO Tobias Dengel, "Charlottesville is developing into a tech hub, with many growing technology/software companies. We will continue to rapidly expand, taking advantage of this unique location and business environment." As evidence of this approach, WillowTree recently purchased the building in which it was previously renting space. The move both solidifies WillowTree's commitment to downtown Charlottesville and allows room for significant future expansion.

Search Mojo specializes in search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising management, and post-click marketing to drive B2B lead generation. The company experienced 273% revenue growth and added nine jobs over the past three years. Although this is the first time Search Mojo has made the list, it ranked 2nd in Virginia within the category of Advertising and Marketing.

Silverchair Holdings, which returned to the list for its second year, provides technology tools and expertise to streamline the delivery of education and information in health care. Customers include medical journals, health information publishers, and medical associations. The company experienced 92% revenue growth and added 116 jobs over three years. 2011 revenue topped $20 million.

The 2012 Inc. 500|5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2008 to 2011. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2008. Additionally, they must have been U.S. based, privately held, for-profit, and independent-not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies-as of December 31, 2011. The minimum revenue required for 2008 was $100,000; the minimum for 2011 was $2 million.

Congratulations to each of these firms for achieving rapid growth and best wishes for continued success in Charlottesville and around the world.
 LOCAL COMPANIES MERGE TO BECOME POWERHOUSE IN THE ONLINE FOOD INDUSTRY
Local Companies Merge to Become Powerhouse in the Online Food Industry 
 
On August 28th, Relay Foods announced a significant expansion in customer base by expanding beyond its current Charlottesville and Richmond markets. This locally owned company will now reach the Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas. In anticipation of this expansion, Relay Foods merged with Arganica Farm Club, a local food sourced business linking customers to local farm products through home delivery.

This is great news for both local customers and future buyers in these metropolitan areas. By merging with Arganica, Charlottesville customers will now have access to an even larger variety of fresh, local produce, as well as the added benefit of supporting our area's farmers. Combined with the already expansive selection of items offered by Relay Foods, customers will now have over 11,000 different selections to choose from when filling up on weekly grocery list items. The launch of Relay Mama earlier this year has also allowed customers the ability to purchase numerous baby items online such as organic formula and diapers.

The Relay Foods team has spent the summer gearing up for this expansion. The company's processing area, located on Carlton Road, Avenue is a bustling place where workers can be seen moving rapidly around the expansive warehouse, filling orders of dry-goods, refrigerated items, and basic grocery items like aluminum foil and dish soap. With new construction and remodeling currently happening at this location, Relay Foods is far from becoming complacent after this merger. Having recently raised $1.2 million in new capital, this could be just a sign of things to come for this growing business.
 
Get Connected at the Chamber Minority Business Conference
 
On Tuesday, September 18th, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Minority Business Council will host its inaugural Minority Business Conference from 8:00am to 4:15pm at the Omni Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. The conference is a daylong event offering numerous business-related workshops for the seasoned business or the fresh start-up. Just a few of the topics include: starting a business, using social media to build business relationships, selling to the government, and finding capital.

There will also be abundant networking opportunities, as well as a marketplace where businesses will display their products and services to conference attendees. Business development resources such as the Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development will be onsite to inform entrepreneurs of the assistance they offer. The day will end with a fast-paced, highly interactive elevator pitch competition, with winners receiving various advertising packages donated by those in the local community.

The conference is being underwritten by Allison Partners and the City of Charlottesville Dialogue on Race, from which the Chamber Minority Business Council was born. If you are seeking connections to enhance an established business, wanting to connect with minority-owned businesses, thinking of launching a new business and need to connect the pieces, you do not want to miss this!
  
City Spotlight: Alloy Workshop Celebrates 5th Anniversary
 
Alloy Workshop, an architecture, construction, and graphic design studio, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. Alloy is excited to move into its newly renovated, energy-efficient office space on Rose Hill Drive. The expansion comes after a successful year marked by growth and the completion of eight residential construction projects and numerous graphic design and architectural projects including The Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar.

In 2006, owners Dan Zimmerman and Zach Snider started collaborating on projects and discussing the possibility of forming a partnership. It was a good match, two people interested in growing a business with different, yet complimentary, skill sets and a shared business vision. Alloy was officially formed on the first day of 2007. Alloy added an integrated graphic design department in 2009 resulting in an innovative studio that spans a broad design spectrum. Alloy's momentum has enabled the company to more than double their employees from six in 2010 to thirteen in 2011.

Dan says, "In looking for a new home for Alloy, we were absolutely committed to staying downtown. We live, shop and play in Charlottesville; and as a company we want to invest in the city we love. A lot of our work is renovation; bringing new life to an old building is one of our passions. By renovating an existing building, we felt we could create a unique office space that successfully communicates our design ideals to our clients and the community."

For Alloy, one of these ideals is a dedication to creatively implementing sustainability and energy efficiency. Participating in both the LEAP Commercial Program and the Charlottesville Better Business Challenge, the new Rose Hill location boasts new bio-based foam insulation, a high efficiency HVAC system, a wood stove for additional heat, solar tubes and skylights for daylighting, and water conserving plumbing fixtures. "We added a shower in the bathroom to help encourage bicycle commuting or lunchtime workouts. We'll have onsite composting, rainwater harvesting, and a vegetable garden to try to reduce trips to the grocery store and keep our daily lunches local," says Zach.

Alloy Workshop hopes to continue to combine innovative design solutions with sustainable building technologies in our community for many years to come. Congratulations to the staff at Alloy for their success over the past five years!
 
SweetHaus Opens on West Main Street
 
After several years of dreaming about opening her own cupcake shop, Tara Koenig - UVA alumna, mother, and now entrepreneur - has opened SweetHaus Cupcake and Candy Shop located at 315 West Main Street. SweetHaus' specialty is miniature cupcakes, which in spite of their small size have become a smash success. In addition to these baked offerings, SweetHaus peddles nostalgic candy such as wax bottles, candy necklaces, and gourmet jelly beans. Specialty gifts such as retro aprons in graphic prints, ceramic mixing bowls and platters, colorful cake stands and cheeky favors such as bubble gum cigar birth announcements are also available.

In light of the recession, Tara acknowledges many families, including her own, have "felt the pressure to curb spending and cut down on dining out expenditures. But I knew that SweetHaus would be a bright spot for many people, a little haven where they can indulge themselves for a few dollars." The idea is remarkably simple. For under $5, customers can try five different flavors of cupcakes in the miniature size. By offering these treats at such a reasonable price, Tara hopes that she is able "to shine a little happiness on someone else's day."

For more information about SweetHaus, call 434-422-2677.
 
Local Production Company Helps Boost the City's Economy
 
This month, local production company, Arvold Productions, and Grammy nominated recording artist, Ralph Covert, began filming the pilot episode of Time Machine Guitar, a new children's TV show, in the City of Charlottesville. Erica Arvold, producer for the show and owner of Arvold Productions, considers the show "an incredibly unique, creative, and fulfilling project...and a chance for the whole of Charlottesville to be involved in something special."

Because of the hotel space, food, and other supplies required to put together a TV show, the local Charlottesville economy is greatly benefiting from the production. More than 80 cast and crew members were hired for the production, and businesses such as the Holiday Inn-Charlottesville, Eppie's, Hamilton's, Blue Ridge Country Store, and Rebecca's Natural Foods have increased sales by offering their products and services to everyone involved. If Charlottesville is chosen as the location for the entire series, the potential economic contribution could reach into the millions.

Based on music videos, Time Machine Guitar revolves around the world of Ralph and his puppet friends as they play and dance to the popular Ralph's World music. Ralph Covert, singer and songwriter for the show, was nominated for Best Musical Album for Children at the 48th Grammy Awards. To thank the Charlottesville and Richmond communities for their support, Covert plans to give a free "thank you" concert after the pilot is complete.
 
Silverchair Receives Governor's Award for Innovation
 
Silverchair Information Systems, founded in 1993 by Thane Kerner and Elizabeth Willingham, began as a small two-person office that has grown to over 150 employees dedicated to delivering advanced semantic technologies, publishing platforms, and e-learning solutions to scientific, technical and medical publishers, professional societies, and the federal government. In June 2011, Silverchair launched SCM6, the most substantial upgrade to its SCM web product development platform in company history. Eight leading scientific societies simultaneously announced plans to migrate their digital publishing operations to, and develop new product lines on, the new platform. SCM6 was built using a natively semantic architecture, enables rapid product and feature deployment, best-of-breed navigation and utility for all content types including journals, and supports myriad new business models to optimize publishers' entire content portfolios.

With headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia, Silverchair was recently featured as a fast-growing job creator on the governor's website as the company continues to expand and bring innovation to the STM and scholarly publishing market.
 
Local Firms Receive Biotech Grants
 
The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) recently awarded a total of $1.8 million in grants to eight Charlottesville-area biotech firms. Hoping to spark innovation, the CIT received more than 90 eligible grant proposals, and awarded a total of $3.6 million to 22 companies in Virginia.

Of these eight local winners, Phthisis Diagnostics Inc. was awarded the largest sum, $548,877, for their proposed intestinal parasite diagnostic kit. According to Phthisis Diagnostics president Crystal Icenhour, the outdated testing methods for food and waterborne parasites are "not very accurate, and not very sensitive." She says that there is a real demand for molecular diagnostic kits, which allow physicians to make a definitive diagnosis 98% of the time. With this grant, Icenhour and the Phthisis Diagnostics team will develop these kits, and begin selling them to labs by 2013.

Other local winners include: HemoShear LLC ($500,000 for vascular injury advancements), Alexander BioDiscoveries LLC ($50,000 for influenza treatment), Gencia Corp. ($50,000 for sepsis bioenergetics treatment), HemoSonics LLC ($99,728 for advancements of in vitro assessment of hemostasis), Indoor Biotechnologies Inc. ($50,000 for mold detection), iTi Health Inc. ($100,000 for pancreatic cancer treatment), University of Virginia ($120,000 for bone-imaging technology), and RetiVue ($250,000 for retinal screening technology and services).
 
Chris Engel Named New Director of Economic Development
 
On February 1, 2012, Chris Engel will officially become the City's new Director of Economic Development. Currently the Assistant Director of Economic Development, Chris will replace Aubrey Watts, who will continue to serve as Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer. "I am very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to continuing the important work of economic development in this community," Chris said.

Chris has worked for the City since 2005. "During his time with the City, Chris has proven himself to be an effective leader in our organization and in the community," said Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones. He has been instrumental in many economic development projects including Whole Foods, Water House, and Jefferson School. As future Executive Director of the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority, which issues bonds to raise capital for public-private partnerships and other incentives to attract businesses to the community, he will continue to place emphasis on development that brings significant capital investment to the City and creates more career ladder opportunities for Charlottesville residents.

Chris is the current chairman of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau and serves on the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development and the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council. He graduated from Mary Washington College with a Bachelor's degree in Geography and received a Master's in Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University.
 
TJPED Names New President
 
The Board of Directors of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development (TJPED) has hired a new President, Helen M. Cauthen. Helen received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Missouri and is a Certified Economic Developer accredited by the International Economic Development Council..

Helen has over twenty-five years of experience in economic development and government relations. She served most recently as the President and CEO of Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the first President of that organization, she successfully established a best-in-class economic development presence for the area and attained 27 new private sector investors with a first year investment of about $200,000. Prior to working in Florida, Helen served for eight years as the Vice President of the Greensboro, NC Economic Development Alliance (GEDA). During her tenure with GEDA, the organization announced the creation of over 7,700 new jobs and over $1.6 billion in new capital investment in Guilford County.

Tom Foley, Albemarle County Executive and Chairman of the TJPED Board of Directors, says that "we are very pleased to bring someone of Ms. Cauthen's caliber to assume this leadership role." With expertise in cluster-based strategies for economic development, workforce development, and a strong track-record of economic development victories, Foley and the other members of the board believe that she will be a great asset for TJPED.

Great Customer Service Comes from the Heart
 
On Thursday, March 1, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and several Charlottesville community partners will host a workshop called "Great Customer Service Comes from the Heart." In a competitive business climate, customer service is a vital component of success in any industry. By ensuring that your clients leave a transaction with a positive impression, quality customer service not only encourages past clients to return, but also encourages the powerful "word-of-mouth" testimony to attract new business. Bobbie Walker, Partnership Marketing Education Director at the Virginia Tourism Corporation, will present the program.

This workshop is ideal for any business, organization, or agency that must deal directly with clients and customers. It will be held in the North Mall Auditorium at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Two sessions will be offered - one from 9:00am to 11:00am and one from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please contact Tracy Kellum at the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau at kellum@charlottesville.org or 434-970-3641.
 
City Spotlight: Silverchair Doubles Number of Employees in 2011
 
A downtown Charlottesville based firm, Silverchair Information Systems, was recently featured on the Governor's website as part of Job Creator Appreciation Month. Silverchair Information Systems, which was founded in 1993, delivers advanced semantic technologies, publishing platforms, and e-learning solutions to scientific, technical, and medical publishers, professional societies, and the federal government. Over the past year, Silverchair Information Systems has been actively hiring individuals to join its hard working team. Much of the hiring has been in software development, software quality assurance, project management, content operations, and interface design.

So far in 2011, Silverchair has added 60 new employees and will bring on board an additional 5 new employees by the end of December for a total of 128 employees versus 63 at the end of 2010. The significant employee growth is a result of the expansion into the STM journal market, the development of a new publishing platform - SCM6, and new clients including nine leading scientific societies. As part of its annual business visitation program, staff from the City's Office of Economic Development was instrumental in connecting Silverchair with the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). The program provides assistance for the company's hiring and training needs.

A sister company also based in Charlottesville, Silverchair Learning Systems, is an online learning provider for the senior care industry. Silverchair Learning Systems employs 70 people, most in its Charlottesville office on the top floor of the Inova building. Just over a dozen employees work in the Cary, NC office with another handful working remotely across the country. Silverchair Learning Systems was recently named a one of the "Best Places to Work in VA" in 2012 by VA Business Magazine. "This honor reflects directly on all of our employees who work hard to make our organization great," said Mike Mutka, President & COO of Silverchair Learning Systems. "This award is possible only because everyone cares deeply enough to make Silverchair Learning Systems an incredible place to work."
 
Worldstrides Arrives Downtown
 
Worldstrides, a national educational student travel organization, recently moved into its new headquarters as part of the Waterhouse project in downtown Charlottesville. The mixed use project, located along west Water Street, contains 130,000 square feet of new and renovated space that includes residential units, office space, and parking. The move is somewhat of a homecoming for the company, formerly known as Lakeland Tours, which began as a City business two decades ago. Spurred by several mergers and organic growth, the now 250-employee organization has become a leader in student travel.

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville (DBAC) welcomed Worldstrides and its employees with excitement as the company's presence will significantly boost the daytime population of the downtown area. DBAC provided welcome bags to all employees and helped distribute signs and banners throughout downtown in recognition of the move.

The City and the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority helped facilitate this project by entering into a performance agreement with the developer that permits a portion of the real estate tax increment created by the new investment to be shared with the developer for a period of five years. The agreement recognizes both the challenge and higher cost of urban infill development as well as the City's desire to help cultivate employment opportunities when possible.
 
The Farm Cville Opens in Belmont
 
The Farm Cville is a new neighborhood grocery and "gourmet bodega" born out of a vision to connect the people of Charlottesville with the vibrant agricultural community. Founded by Bill Davies, The Farm Cville partners with local food producers, bakeries, and other local initiatives to offer flavorful and healthy food at fair prices. For example, The Farm purchases much of its greens and fresh-produce from Horse & Buggy Produce, which is a farm-share program that distributes the products of small-farms in Albemarle and the Shenandoah Valley. Also, The Farm gets its coffees and espressos from Shenandoah Joe, its breads and pastries from the Albemarle Baking Co. on West Main St., and offers an array of local wines to choose from at reasonable prices.

These initiatives reflect Bill's belief in the fundamental connection between community and high-quality nourishment. After fifteen years in the wine business, and other work in the markets for grass-fed beef and organic rice, Bill came to Charlottesville from Napa Valley, California with his wife and two children. Bill opened the store because "people need good things to eat, and good food and drink bring people together." At this time of the year, who could disagree?

Situated at the south foot of the Belmont Bridge and a block from the Downtown Mall, The Farm Cville is located at 205 Monticello Road, near Spudnuts and The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative. Next time you're on the Downtown Mall, be sure to walk across the bridge and pick up some fresh food, sip a hot cappuccino, or just to say hi and support a bustling new small business. Like The Farm Cville on Facebook and receive up-to-date notices of daily specials.
 
SHW Group Showcases Green Office Space
 
On December 8th, SHW Group opened its doors to Charlottesville area Better Business Challenge participants and other local businesses for an event that was certainly "Not Your Average Office Party." As participants in the Better Business Challenge, SHW Group has made a commitment to sustainability in its day to day operations, and during the open house, the firm's principals, Bill Bradley and Rob Winstead, got a chance to showcase some of their green initiatives while celebrating the holiday season in style.

Partygoers left impressed by the small steps that SHW Group has made to make their business more environmentally friendly, such as the use of landfill-rescued office furniture and outdoor lighting made from recycled plastic. Additionally, the SHW Group office boasts green items ranging from self-powering automatic faucets to tables and desks made of discarded doors. The office places a strong emphasis on using natural light rather than artificial, and has extra switches installed near the doors to allow virtually all the electricity entering the office to be cut off overnight and on weekends.

These small steps encourage a focus on sustainability that is at the heart of the Charlottesville Better Business Challenge's mission. This grant-funded, locally-sponsored initiative encourages businesses to engage in a friendly competition with one another in a mission to incorporate green practices into everyday business operations. The Better Business Challenge utilizes a scorecard system that rewards companies for such things as cutting wasteful consumption or attending Better Business Challenge events. In May, Challenge officials will collect the scorecards and name a winner. Currently, 101 Charlottesville-area businesses are signed up for the Challenge, but others are still welcome to join!
 
Amoeba Films Encourages Shopping Local this Holiday Season
 

This holiday season, Brian Wimer, owner of Amoeba Films, took a break from his Charlottesville-based production company to help the community promote downtown businesses this holiday season. Brian's two short films feature the Downtown Mall and encourage residents to make their purchases from downtown merchants this year. These videos can be viewed on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/dFtmNYMMyoI and http://youtu.be/uMvhYX63ds4.

These commercials are not Brian's only philanthropic endeavor of the season. To film scenes in his feature-length movie Danger.Zombies.Run., Brian organized the Zombie 5K and allowed participants to choose between running with groups of zombies that prey upon the living or being a zombie's victim. The event raised roughly $3,000 after race expenses, and this money was split between an initiative to bring local foods into Charlottesville schools and the Filmmakers Republik, a non-profit in support of Central Virginia filmmakers.

When he's not running away from zombies, Brian heads Amoeba Films, an award-winning film production studio that has produced over one-hundred different shorts, commercials, industrial documentaries, and music videos. Brian has come to Charlottesville after working in advertisements where he lent his voice to the Taco Bell Chihuahua. Our community is fortunate to have talented and generous individuals like Brian among us.

 
New Group Helps Charlottesville Businesses Connect
 
A new group in Charlottesville, Central Virginia Business Owners (CVBO), is giving aspiring and existing business owners the much-needed opportunity to network with one another. Through this networking group, founders Brion Draper of American Made Signs and Mike Silverman of Silver Streak Media, are helping small businesses and startups in our community make the connections and get the resources that they need to be successful in Charlottesville - at no charge.

In October, CVBO hosted the 2011 Business Expo at CitySpace, which gave small business owners who don't typically have the resources to market their businesses in such venues the opportunity to showcase their goods and services to the public. More than 150 local entrepreneurs participated in the expo. In addition to such special events, Central Virginia Business Owners also holds monthly meetings with guest speakers offering expertise on various business topics such as procurement, financing, and customer service. These free meetings also include organized networking time and business demonstrations. Members are free to attend as often or as little as they like, and attendees are welcome to speak in front of the group if they choose. People of all levels of business experience are encouraged to come.

CVBO currently has networking meetings planned for January 24th from 6:00pm to 8:30pm at the Stutlz Center at PVCC and February 29th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at CitySpace.
 
New Tax Credit for Businesses Allowing Telecommuting
 
On September 30, 2011, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) hosted a free webinar to educate businesses on a new tax credit encouraging private sector telework. This new legislation provides businesses with a tax credit of up to $1,200 per employee and up to $50,000 per organization for eligible telework expenses incurred during taxable years 2012 and 2013.

The webinar provided additional information on the tax credit, the requirements to pre-apply and qualify for the credit, and details as to how telework practically applies in the organizational setting. Presenters in the webinar included the legislation's sponsors, Delegate Barbara Comstock, Senator Mark Herring, DRPT Director Thelma Drake, representatives from the Virginia Department of Taxation, and representatives from Telework!VA.

Telework, also known as telecommuting, is a work arrangement in which an employee performs their normal work duties in a location outside of the office. Telework is an effectively reduces congestion by removing cars from the highways, and has been shown to improve employee productivity, retention and satisfaction. The state encourages businesses to consider the numerous advantages of telework, and this new tax credit provides an additional incentive.

Pre-applications for the tax credit are due to the Department of Taxation by October 31, 2011.
 
Charlottesville Receives Accolades
 
Adding to an already long list of accolades, Charlottesville was recently named the number one Best Place to Live in America in a joint publication by Yahoo! Real Estate and Sperling's Best Places. The article cited the Charlottesville area's healthy economy, four pleasant seasons, breathtaking fall foliage, and the wealth of local amenities as justifications for the ranking. Charlottesville beat out several formidable contenders for the top-spot, including Honolulu, HI, Ashville, NC, and Santa Barbara, CA. In addition to the factors described above, the article also considered cost of living and median home prices.

In addition to this lofty praise, the City was also recognized by Livability.com as the number four city for book lovers. A haven for famous writers, Edgar Allen Poe, William Faulkner, and John Grisham have all called Charlottesville home at one point or another. The article cited this historical pedigree, as well as Charlottesville's "small army" of 22 local bookstores that collectively meet the demands of any book- hunter. Charlottesville was the only city in Virginia to make either list, and as a man who famously declared that he "could not live without books," Thomas Jefferson would surely be proud of this designation.
 
City Business Spotlight - Great Harvest Bread
 
A Charlottesville branch of the Great Harvest Bread Co., a company that specializes in handmade whole grain breads, opened this June. This company has approximately 225 locations in 46 states, including several bakeries in Northern Virginia. Great Harvest Bread Co. grinds high quality wheat into flour daily and then blends the flour with natural ingredients, like yeast, salt and honey to make loaves of bread that are both delicious and healthy. Great Harvest never uses chemicals or additives while making their bread and each loaf ends up weighing more than two pounds.

The Charlottesville branch of Great Harvest is franchised by Matt Monson and his wife Kath Younger. Matt is a Charlottesville native and former employee of a North Carolina Great Harvest store. He admits that he is fascinated by the science behind making food (especially bread), and he uses science to create the best products possible. This husband and wife team is focused on quality - buying only the freshest ingredients - and supporting other area businesses. In fact, many of their ingredients, such as eggs, tomatoes, and other vegetables come from local suppliers. The store also carries a custom made Shenandoah Joe's coffee blend. In addition to purchasing locally, Great Harvest has also incorporated other green elements into their business, with paper bags being utilized as much as possible, some corn-based plastic products, and a counter top made completely from recycled glass.

Please join us in welcoming Great Harvest Bread Co. to Charlottesville. Be sure to pay them a visit and try not only their bread, but also their sweets, sandwiches, and granola. The store is located in McIntire Plaza at 1701 Allied Lane. For more information, please contact Matt or Kath at 434-202-7813 or visit www.greatharvestcville.com.
 
British Retailer Jack Wills Opens on the Corner
 
On Friday, July 22, British fashion retailer, Jack Wills University Outfitters, opened in Charlottesville. The store's grand opening on the Corner at 1411 University Avenue was well attended by both members of the community and UVA students. Designed in a way that resembles an English country house, the shop's 1,468 square feet offers a unique positioning where building criteria is all about setting, history, and character.

Established in 1999, in Salcombe, Devon, UK, Jack Wills reflects British heritage and style. The company's registered trademark, "Fabulously British," defines the inspiration behind the brand: high quality goods that draw heavily on British custom, style, and culture. Jack Wills touts its up-market, niche British concept that stands out from the crowd. The brand exudes a sense of excess, adventure, and a hint of youthful arrogance. This distinctive styling explores the tensions created by teaming formal wear with a more casual look, fusing heritage with contemporary. The product range spans men's and women's apparel and accessories, housewares, and beauty and grooming items.

Please join us in welcoming this new business to the City of Charlottesville! For more information, please visit Jack Wills online at www.jackwills.com.
 
WorkSource Enterprises Helps Local Businesses Meet Workforce Needs
 
While nonprofit organizations contribute significantly to the quality of life, Charlottesville-based WorkSource Enterprises is one that is actively engaged in economic development as well. Founded in 1967 to provide job training and employment to persons with disabilities, the organization owns and operates several small businesses that carry out its mission. Its job placement division works with over 100 regional businesses to assist them in recruiting and maintaining qualified and dedicated employees. WorkSource also performs sub-contract work for many companies that are in need of assembly and packaging services or need assistance with mailing projects and assembling promotional materials. It works with many small entrepreneurial firms, but also provides these services for large companies looking for cost-effective ways to get projects done well and on schedule.

BreadWorks Bakery & Deli, a division of WorkSource, is located at 923 Preston Avenue and its products are also available at many local retailers including Integral Yoga, C-ville Market and Rebecca's Natural Foods. Many Charlottesville restaurants, caterers, governmental agencies and the University of Virginia purchase from BreadWorks. For example, Belmont Pizza & Pub on Carlton Road uses BreadWorks dough for its delicious traditional and wheat crust pizza. BreadWorks also sells its products online through Relay Foods and it has an eatery in the UVA Health System's Northridge outpatient facility on Ivy Road. BreadWorks party platters and box lunches are available for special events and limited delivery service is available.

WorkSource also runs a janitorial division that provides custodial and housekeeping services for the Charlottesville Federal Building on West Main Street and the Federal Executive Institute on Emmet Street. Its Day Support program provides pre-vocational, educational and recreational activities for citizens with disabilities.

For more information about how WorkSource can help your business with its workforce needs, please contact them at 972-1730 or visit them at www.worksourceva.org.
 
Charlottesville Embodies the American Dream
 
Charlottesville was named to the "American Dream City" list by thestreet.com and was the only southern locality that made the list. The article noted Charlottesville's great history, mentioning that presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson called this city home. The article also suggests that the 20,000+ University of Virginia students as well as teachers and other staff serve as a great economic generator for the area. Charlottesville is also a center for the arts, as it hosts various book, music and film festivals throughout much of the year. Apart from the art entertainment, the University of Virginia Athletic Department provides year-round sports entertainment including: basketball, football, and lacrosse to name a few.

The article notes how the best part of Charlottesville is that everything is within walking distance. The City offers a mostly free transit system that puts 77% of the City within a stroll of amenities and activities. As for scenery, the nearby Shenandoah National Park and its scenic Skyline Drive that turns into the Blue Ridge Parkway offer beautiful views of Central Virginia. Other attractions include a number of surrounding wineries and the "Brew Ridge Trail" of craft brewers that includes Charlottesville's South Street Brewery. Charlottesville has a $220,000 median home price and a $78,300 median family income. The article states that area schools seal the deal though, as a handful of its elementary schools earn perfect marks and its top middle schools and high schools don't miss by much.
 
City Business Spotlight - Rivanna Natural Designs
 
Founded ten years ago by owner Crystal Mario, Rivanna Natural Designs is a green local business, which manufactures eco-friendly plaques and awards for organizations in 42 states and Canada. Crystal began the company with a few simple goals in mind. First of all, she wanted to create safe, rewarding jobs for refugees living in the Charlottesville area. Secondly, she wanted the company to be as green as possible.

In discussions with the Charlottesville office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Crystal worked to understand the needs of her employees. The IRC explained that the company needed to be accessible by public transportation, have flexible hours, train non-English speakers, provide decent benefits, and have living wages. She was able to incorporate all of these needs into Rivanna Natural Designs, and most of those she hired from the IRC are still with her today.

To create green manufacturing jobs, the company needed to make green products, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provided the company with this opportunity. Sustainable forestry certification enabled the company to formalize its commitment to the environment and be confident about the sources of its raw materials. The company began making FSC-certified wood products, such as hand-crafted corporate gifts. Eventually, after requests from clients, the company began making sustainable products from post-consumer recycled materials, such as glass, wood, and newspaper. It now mainly makes green awards for companies and organizations all over the country.

Congratulations to Rivanna Natural Designs on its 10-year anniversary. This company is a perfect model of how small, green businesses can be very successful and impact the local community!
 
Frontrunner Signs Celebrates 10 Years in Business
 
Ten years ago, Frontrunner Sign Studios first opened its doors. Since that day, plenty of new and exciting things have happened for this business. In 2002, they purchased Harvey's Awards (Supreme Rubber Stamp) and added engraving and rubber stamp making to their repertoire. This year they celebrated the 52nd year of rubber stamp making in Charlottesville! In 2006, Frontrunner added laser engraving to the list of services they offer. This opened up more possibilities for the company, with intricate designs in wood, plastic, rubber and many other products, including dimensional letters now available. In 2008, the company began generating full-color products including banners, signs, and vehicle wraps after the acquisition of a large format printer.

Frontrunner offers a long list of services that include full-color banners, vehicle letterings, job site signs, 3-D signs, interior signs, and nametags to list a few. They also offer a selection of green products, including EcoPrinty stamps, renewable awards and gifts, and compostable banners. Located at 1304 E Market Street, Suite O, in Charlottesville, Frontrunner Sign Studios hopes to continue helping customers for many years to come. For more information, call 434-293-7446.
 
Whole Foods Opens in the City
 
Earlier this month, the long awaited Whole Foods Market opened its doors for business at its new address on Hydraulic Road in the City. The 40,000 square foot store replaces a smaller store located at the Shoppers World center off Route 29 north. The new location nearly triples the freezer space for an expanded selection of frozen food. It also has a notably larger seafood department, features an onsite butcher, and has a wood-fired pizza oven fueled by locally grown and chopped wood. Whole Foods Market was founded in 1980, in Austin, Texas, where it remains headquartered today. Whole Foods currently operates over 300 stores throughout the world including nine in Virginia.

The City, through the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority, assisted this project by providing $2 million in funding, which allowed for the first section of Hillsdale Drive to be constructed ahead of schedule. Hillsdale Drive provides access to the Whole Foods parking lot.
 
Local Businesses Step Up to the Challenge
 
On Tuesday, June 21st, the Charlottesville Area Better Business Challenge was officially launched, with an energy audit of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce located at 209 5th Street NE. The Better Business Challenge is a friendly points-based competition among local businesses of all shapes and sizes that encourages them to incorporate and enhance sustainability initiatives that will make them more efficient and increase sales. This practice aims to not only make businesses more competitive, but also to help them have a positive impact on their local communities. The main focus is the "triple bottom line" of profits, people, and the planet that businesses everywhere are embracing.

The competition measures success in six key areas: energy, transportation, water, waste, purchasing, innovation, and leadership. It encourages companies to set goals for improvements and benchmarks for success and then take credit for these efforts and achievements as they are implemented. There will be numerous opportunities for public recognition throughout the competition through media partnerships, advertising, and cross-promotion. All businesses that participate will be recognized and a review team of area leaders will award the top scorers in small, medium, and large businesses, as well as a biggest loser, top innovator, runners up, and a green champion. Every business that participates will be provided with the necessary resources needed to compete including: an extensive resource list, online benchmarking tools, case studies, site visits, training sessions, webinars, and avenues for networking and collaboration.

At the launch, 10 businesses signed up to participate in the Better Business Challenge including: the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Paramount, C'ville Coffee, The Mudhouse, Downtown Family Health, 2RW Consulting, Blue Ridge Eco Shop, Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Evolve Eco-Friendly Hair Design, and Tandem Friends School. The first 25 businesses to sign up will be included in a full-page ad in C-VILLE Weekly in July. All businesses that sign up by August 1st will receive two additional bonus points for their scorecard tallies. Enrollment closes September 15th, and the Challenge will end with an awards ceremony in the spring of 2012. For more information or to get involved, please email info@cvillebetterbiz.org.
 
City Businesses Learn About Business Greening
 
The Central Virginia Small Business Development Center, in partnership with the City of Charlottesville, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), and the Better Business Challenge, held a workshop on Thursday, June 23rd at CitySpace on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. This workshop provided guests with useful tips and information on how to cut energy and water usage to improve the efficiency of their businesses. Speakers from LEAP, UVA Community Credit Union, and the Better Business Challenge presented local business owners with important information about how to go green. There were also several guest business owners who shared how they have gone green with their businesses and reaped the benefits.

Speakers discussed a wide variety of topics including sustainability, green energy solutions, and financing incentives. For example, the University of Virginia Community Credit Union offers low-interest financing for energy-efficient improvements for homes and businesses. Other speakers explained how going green is now very important to brand value, and first-hand accounts of green businesses' success stories were given. Guests were encouraged to have their facilities' energy usage benchmarked and compared to the national standard and/or have energy audits performed in order to determine what they could do to improve efficiency.

In addition to the greening tips, Teri Kent was also on hand to discuss the upcoming Better Business Challenge, which encourages small business owners to take part in a year-long competition to lower energy and water usage and increase efficiency.
 
 
City Business Spotlight - OpenSpace
 
The following is adapted from a member feature at OpenSpace, Charlottesville's own unique collaborative work space.

Bryan Lewis was the first member to write his dissertation at OpenSpace - having spent many, many, many hours here writing, researching, stressing, drinking, & snacking. He's super-smart and now has the letters after his name to prove it. So what does that somewhat quiet and wonderfully kind guy you see all the time do? Bryan and his team from Virginia Tech do something called Public Health Modeling. In layman's terms, that means that they help predict how diseases will travel through a population under different scenarios. Then, they advise public health officials and policy-makers as to the policies they should create.

As Bryan says, "The paradox of public health is that if you're doing a good job, nobody knows it." Remember that H1N1 flu scare that never really materialized? Well, we have Bryan and his team to thank - their recommendations showed up in White House policies and the whole thing was a "non-event." Lately, Bryan's been working on how to minimize the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Talk about impact and the things that matter ....

OpenSpace, located just off the Downtown Mall at 455 Second Street SE, opened its doors to local professionals and entrepreneurs for their work and meeting needs in October of 2009. As the City's most recently constructed Class A office space, the facility offers over 6,000 square feet of space designed to accommodate the changing world of work. For those who currently turn their home or neighborhood coffee house into an office, OpenSpace features collaboration studios, a traditional conference room, expansive worktables, kitchen, and lounge areas to serve the dynamic needs of professionals who need a place to work without the responsibility of a lease. For more information, please visit OpenSpace's WEBSITE.
  
Access to Tourists - Hospitality Industry Take Note
 
With increasing fuel costs, the Office of Economic Development is pleased to be working with our partners at Visit Charlottesville and Albemarle County to roll out another summer "staycation" campaign called My Backyard Vacation - Stay Local, Play Local. Giveaways through local broadcast media, social media contests, and more are currently being planned! If you are willing to donate items - either goods or services in whole or part (coupon codes are welcome) - for this summer's campaign, please email Allie Baer, Marketing Director with Visit Charlottesville, with a short description of the giveaway and the item's value.

If you'd like to learn more about the program, please join the Stay Local, Play Local team for an interest meeting on Monday, May 9th at 3:30pm in CitySpace (100 5th St NE). More information is also available ONLINE.
 
Birch Studio Makes Green Technology Easy for VA Businesses
 
Birch Studio, a brand agency located in Downtown Charlottesville, recently released its first edition of the Flux Report - an easy-to-read snapshot of green technology as it relates to specific industries. The concept of the report stems from the firm's longtime commitment to promoting evolving technologies that reduce our carbon footprint and overall lessen impact on the environment. According to Birch Studio co-founder, David Robinson, "It is a report we are producing as a catalyst for change in the green tech sector. By providing useful information to decision makers, they can adjust their marketing, manufacturing and sales strategies to be more competitive, more successful, and ultimately, help us live lighter on Earth."

The inaugural issue, which was released January of this year, focused on electric vehicles and addressed such topics as consumer motivations for purchasing electric vehicles, the five main consumer concerns about purchasing electric vehicles, interest in electric vehicles as opposed to bio-diesel, and top related search terms for electric vehicles. To view the report, CLICK HERE. The next Flux Report will be on hydrogen fuel. Birch Studio will partner with VA Clean Cities to distribute this (and future reports) to green tech businesses across the state.

In addition to producing The Flux Report, Birch Studio offers a full scale of branding/marketing services such as research and strategy, information design, graphic design, web design, website development, and search engine optimization. The agency's client companies, many of which are located in the Charlottesville area, range in size (one employee to one thousand) and span practically every sector of the economy.
 
Charlottesville Shows Economic Growth
 
Five metro areas in Virginia, including Charlottesville were among the few in the country that saw their local economies grow in 2009. In a report released this month, the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis stated that only 20 percent of 366 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) showed growth in their real gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in the area.

Overall, GDP in U.S. metro areas was down 2.4 percent in constant dollars in 2009, compared with a decline of 0.4 percent in 2008. The GDP in the Charlottesville area, which was reported at $9.09 billion rose 1.2 percent. Other MSAs that experienced growth include Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Harrisonburg, and Winchester. The GDP of the Washington, D.C., area, including Northern Virginia, rose 2.2 percent in 2009. In Hampton Roads (including Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News), the increase was 1.7 percent. GDP rose 2.8 percent in the Harrisonburg area and 0.4 percent in the Winchester region, which includes parts of West Virginia.

The Charlottesville area's GDP is ranked 184th out of 366. This is higher than Harrisonburg (243rd) and Winchester (279th), but lower than the other two MSAs, Washington D.C. (4th) and Hampton Roads (35th), that experienced growth in 2009.
  
Cardagin Launches in Charlottesville
 
Another technology based start-up has chosen Charlottesville as its base of operations. After months of development and a successful pilot in Charlottesville, Cardagin Networks officially launched itself on January 18th as a leading mobile loyalty and advertising provider. Cardagin redefines how local businesses attract, retain and reward loyal customers through a self-service mobile marketing platform designed to help local businesses target and personalize their advertising and monetize their loyalty programs. More than 120 businesses in the Charlottesville area currently use Cardagin to offer coupons and track consumer habits.

Cardagin is based on the need for consumers to enjoy hassle-free management of local loyalty card and rewards programs and have constant access to the most up-to-date offers and coupons. Most importantly, Cardagin was created to give local businesses an easy way to effectively and accurately build customer loyalty, as well as measure coupon redemption and the success of every advertising campaign. For the first time, local business owners can finally close the advertising loop and move from broadcast and customer acquisition to customer loyalty and retention.

In choosing Charlottesville, founder and CEO Rob Masri pointed to the area's demographic mix and willingness to embrace technology as key considerations. "Charlottesville businesses and Charlottesville residents are on the cutting edge of new technology adoption, and a platform like Cardagin would likely be embraced by the local community," said Masri. In addition, "the demographics are such that many smart phone users and many people including students don't interact with traditional media as much anymore; Cardagin serves to connect businesses and residents while also encouraging local economic activity."

Cardagin plans to expand beyond Charlottesville in the first half of 2011 and has already begun to develop markets in Washington, D.C.; Blacksburg, VA; Richmond, VA; and Nashville, TN.
 
Local Firm Brings New Perspective to Interactive Training & Education
 
Founded in 1985 as a small graphic design firm, Creative Perspectives has become a leading innovator in the multimedia industry, providing an interactive environment for teaching and training. In recent years, the company has continued its commitment to creating a "great user experience" for those being educated through the use of interactive multimedia by launching a new, optimized framework called Marionette.

A product of two decades of development experience, Marionette allows for the creation of full-featured, interactive programs, with the graphics, audio, video, and interactivity that effective training requires. Using the new framework, Creative Perspective can develop training that loads fast, looks great, and immerses users in a rich interactive environment. From embedded graphs and tables, to narration and video, to a full-featured "Glossary Service" that allows for definitions with visuals and spoken audio, Marionette creates the ultimate learning experience while at the same time, making workflow easier and more efficient.

To ensure that its interactive programs are effective, Creative Perspectives has also developed the framework in such a way that training is measurable through interactive self-checks and final exams that are a cut above the usual text-based multiple-choice online quiz. Questions can include graphics, animation, video, audio, and of course, interactive elements. They can be displayed in a variety of forms such as click and drag labeling, hotspot identification, dropdown ordering, and sorting and grouping. The ability to teach and train users in this format has been groundbreaking in the medical, pharmaceutical sales, and biotech industries.
 
 
FiberLight Unveils New Network in Charlottesville
 
FiberLight, LLC, one of the nation's leading providers of mission critical, high performance fiber optic networks, announced this month that it will feature its newest high capacity fiber optic network, a 46-mile direct connection from Culpeper, VA, to Charlottesville, VA, during a special event scheduled in Charlottesville. The new high-count, underground network will use enhanced fiber for lower latency and will provide a direct connection to Culpeper and Washington, D.C., home to FiberLight's 500+mile multi-ringed, optical network. The event will be held on Thursday, February 3rd from 11:00am to 2:00pm at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville and will feature speakers from FiberLight, the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville, and Albemarle County.

"As a company, we believe it is of vital importance to provide state of the art fiber access not only to Charlottesville, but to the growing business communities of Virginia," Mr. Miller said. "At FiberLight, we are experiencing an overall increase in demand by enterprise, government, education, healthcare and high bandwidth application users seeking secure, scalable transport for the purposes of data replication, disaster recovery and connectivity to the Internet. With our state-of-the-art critical infrastructure, we believe we will be able to continue to meet the growing needs of this region."

FiberLight is a premier provider of mission-critical, high performance networking services including Ethernet, Wavelengths and IP, SONET, and Dark Fiber optical transport network solutions. Solutions are provided to telecom carriers, government, enterprise, content providers and web-centric businesses. FiberLight wholly owns its 500,000 fiber-mile network in key growth areas and offers robust metro networks in 21 metros within Georgia, Florida, Washington, D.C., Texas, Virginia and Maryland, as well as Wide Area Networking options at layer 1, 2 and 3 to major commercial hubs throughout the country.
 
 
Buy Art Give Art Launches
 
A new campaign called Buy Art Give Art launches this week with hopes of stimulating the City's local creative economy this holiday season and beyond. With intentions similar to the well-known Eat Fresh Eat Local movement and Shop Charlottesville, Buy Art Give Art reminds Charlottesville citizens to consider purchasing one-of-a-kind, locally-created artwork - of all sizes and price ranges - from our galleries, studios, and other venues that sell locally produced art.

Participating visual art vendors will display bright green Buy Art Give Art window decals and will be handing out similar auto stickers and buttons to patrons. The key campaign component, however, will be local artist designed commemorative pins given in gratitude to anyone who purchases a piece of art from a participating vendor - be it $5, $50, or $500.

The initiative, modeled after the successful I Buy Art campaign in Providence, Rhode Island, represents a unique collaboration between the City of Charlottesville's Office of Economic Development, the Piedmont Council for the Arts, and many local art vendors, including galleries, studios, and even coffee shops and restaurants that display and sell art. Visit www.BuyArtGiveArt.com for more information.
 
jean theory: Ends 2010 with a Bang
 
After a year and a half of success downtown and its latest designation as Cville's Best Place for Jeans, jean theory: has expanded into the North Wing at Barracks Road Shopping Center next to Scarpa for the holiday season. According to owner Laura Van Camp, "We love serving our customers with great finds on premium denim, tops and accessories of all price ranges, and we love the fact that we can wave the "green" flag, since half of our inventory is inherited (gently used)." In addition to selling inherited denim, jean theory: also buys back clothes for cash or trade-in credit - no appointment is necessary.

In an effort to celebrate loyal customers and the new location, a Holiday Open House at Barracks will be held on Wednesday, December 15th. Special discounts will be offered, and staff will be available to help customers find the "perfect jean." Jean theory: downtown is open Monday through Wednesday from 10:00am to 6:00pm and Thursday through Saturday from 11:00am to 7:00pm. The holiday store at Barracks is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 6:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. For more information, visit jean theory: ONLINE or find the store on Facebook at jean theory: where tips, trends, and insider information are posted on a regular basis.
 
Local Bi-Lingual Business Journal Adds Radio Presence  
 
"Speaking Forward" builds upon the loyal following generated by Forward/Adelante's quarterly Bilingual Business Journal and Chapter 6 Networking events. Hosted by journal founder, Olga Morse, and local attorney, Jeffrey S. Haynes, the radio show's purpose is to educate the community on timely business topics, offer practical business solutions for local entrepreneurs (whether they have a newly formed business or are looking to expand), provide legal commentary and advice, and promote exclusive discounts to listeners from local businesses.

Several topics and themes will place special emphasis on diversity and deliver a flavor that is uniquely Latino. Energetic dialogue will be the hallmark of the interviews and guests will range from the newly minted entrepreneur to the seasoned and well-known business leaders of today. The show will conclude with a sports segment dedicated to the Latino Soccer League, providing exclusive entertainment in the form of player/coach interviews and weekly game coverage to over 10,000 fans. So, be sure to tune in every Saturday from 2:00pm to 3:00pm on WCHV AM 1260 and 94.1 FM.
 
23rd Annual Film Festival Experience Record Attendance
 
The Virginia Film Festival, which wrapped up an extraordinary, jam-packed weekend featuring 132 films and events for the whole community to enjoy, has shattered its all-time records in both attendance and sales. By the time the final credits rolled on its last film late Sunday evening, the Festival had attracted more than 23,750 people and had earned more than $90,158 in ticket sales. Both figures represent a 25% increase over last year. By way of comparison, last year's Festival drew more than 19,000 attendees to its screenings and events, and earned $71,442 in ticket revenue. The sales figure tops the previous record of $72,138, set in 2006 - a year that featured a heavy dose of star power including Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman, and Liev Schreiber.

"I could not be more thrilled by the incredible success we enjoyed this weekend and by the extraordinary events and experiences we were able to share with the community," said Virginia Film Festival Director Jody Kielbasa. "It is particularly gratifying to see the way people have embraced the new direction of the Festival, which has allowed us, and will continue to allow us to ensure that it remain contemporary and relevant." The event, which took place from November 4th to November 7th, is presented by the University of Virginia's College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
 
Department of Minority Business Enterprise (DMBE) Seeks Input from Minority- and Women-Owned Certified Businesses
 
MGT of America, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting firm, is conducting a study on the utilization of Minority- and Women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) for the Commonwealth of Virginia and its agencies. The study will examine the procurement of services and products for the Commonwealth and its agencies, the subcontracting practices of prime contractors/service providers who do business with the Commonwealth and its agencies, and the anecdotal evidence collected from a broad cross section of businesses.

As part of this study, a focus group for local Minority- and Women-owned certified businesses will be held on Tuesday, December 14th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at the Lynchburg Business Development Centre located at 147 Mill Ridge Road in Lynchburg, Virginia. During this focus group, MGT will be seeking feedback on the difficulties or barriers prime contractors, subcontractors or vendors face in all aspects of contracting including, but not limited to, levels of solicitations of SWaM firms by prime contractors, relationships with state entities during the procurement process, and other issues related to access to capital, bonding, and insurance. For more information about this opportunity, contact the DMBE at 804-786-6585.
   
City Businesses Leading the Way in Medicine
 
Charlottesville is paving the way for new advances in the medical field. HemoSonics, LLC, a medical device company founded on technology developed at the University of Virginia, acquired three federal grants worth nearly $2 million. The grants, provided by the Small Business Administration, will help develop technology to rapidly assess patients' blood for abnormal clotting characteristics. This technology will allow physicians to respond more effectively to patients with complications due to excessive bleeding or overactive clotting.

HemoShear, LLC, another bio-technology firm, just announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office granted its patent titled "Use of an In Vitro Hemodynamic Endothelial/Smooth Muscle Cell Co-Culture Model to Identify New Therapeutic Targets for Vascular Disease." The patent encompasses HemoShear's main services of providing pharmaceutical companies research and testing for experimental drugs and compounds in a lab setting that closely resembles the biology of a living human's vascular system without live human testing. This patent insures HemoShear and its status as a leading developer of human-cell based surrogate systems for drug discovery and testing.
 
Virginia Discovery Museum Features New Exhibit
 
The Virginia Discovery Museum on the Downtown Mall is now showcasing a new exhibit, "The Tibetan Way." The exhibit, which took nine months to develop, allows children and adults the opportunity to explore the unique culture and traditions of the people who live in the remote Himalayan Mountains of Tibet. Learn the many uses of the Yak in the Tibetan way of life. Experience a nomad's tent and style of music. Children can learn how Tibetans dress, play with classical musical instruments, and create art with Tibetan themes. The exhibit has many artifacts on loan from Tibetans living in the Charlottesville community, with the most prominent being a traditional shrine found in Tibetan homes. "The Tibetan Way" appeals not only to children, but also to adults hoping to learn more about the unique culture of Tibet. The exhibit will be showcased until March 27, 2011. For more information about the exhibit or the many events going on at the Museum, CLICK HERE.
 
New Social Media Firm Opens in Charlottesville
 
OttoPilot Media, located at 106 South Street, is an out-of-the-box marketing company that specializes in social media strategies. OttoPilot began by addressing the business side of the design world and was launched as a sister company to Gibson Design Media. With locations and contacts throughout the country, the firm has a wide array of resources and intellect, both of which Social Media and Marketing Specialist, Katherine Covington, believes the firm positively resonates through its clients.

OttoPilot Media consists of many innovative professionals who are able to offer a wide range of services. From understanding which marketing strategies are best for a firm to creating unique marketing ideas, OttoPilot creates exclusive and lasting outcomes for all clients. For example, the "Social Media Launch Pad Service" acts as a starting point for companies to launch into social media networks and to learn along the way. Through the Launch Pad service, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, and Foursquare are made accessible to firms that are looking to catapult their business to the next level. Clients are also taught the most successful methods of using the social media platforms as a form of marketing. In order to be sure that the marketing strategies have not fallen by the wayside, OttoPilot has also created an "Online Community Co-Pilot" service, in which a representative does all of the site maintenance, posting, and updating that is vital to the success of social media platforms. Instead of worrying about all the ins-and-outs of the social media networking sites, the work is done automatically for a reasonable monthly rate.

Social media is not the only marketing tool that the company is able to offer. Employees at OttoPilot specialize in creating non-traditional marketing campaigns for any products, services, or events. They can provide search engine optimization, create and manage e-newletters, write blog posts, create Facebook ads, and customize marketing material for offline or online use. With OttoPilot, services can always be designed to fit a specific industry or business need. OttoPilot is exceptional because it also provides analytics and tools to measure end results, creating a sense of tangible success for clients and firms.

OttoPilot is different than other marketing companies because of its creative approach to design and social media. Not only is the company fun and approachable, but it is also constantly monitoring and tailoring the most effective marketing tools through individual research and learning. At OttoPilot Media, the marketing and business strategy potential is limitless.
 
 
Para Ti, Mujer - For You, Woman Community Store Opens in C-ville
 
Para Ti, Mujer is a non-profit thrift store located at 155 Carlton Road. The store, which began as an extension of the women's ministry at Iglesia Casa del Padre, was founded by Hazael Garay earlier this year. By designing the thrift store with a relaxed and calming atmosphere, Hazael hopes to attract local women who are in crisis. The store is a place where women and families can go to buy inexpensive clothing, furniture, and accessories. All of the items are donated by community and church members and all profits go toward two orphanages that are located in Latin America, as well as two non-profit mission organizations. The first organization is Feed My Lambs, which opens schools in impoverished areas and empowers at-risk children. The second is Children's Impact Network, which aids children and youth through mission projects in Latin America and around the world.

While the store has many products to offer, it also acts as a safe environment where Hazael is able to give assistance. From computer training and micro-loans to counseling and emotional support, Para Ti, Mujer is a valuable resource for women in the Charlottesville community. While most of the customers are Hispanic, Hazael is willing to help any woman or family in need. She states, "I would like this to be a center where people who need help can come. We want to be a support system."

There are weekly events that help to make the store successful in its mission. Avon District Manager, Cindy Smith, is stationed in the store every Wednesday and is always available for questions about her micro-business. Women can begin selling Avon products with the help of Cindy and can even use the store's computer system to learn how to boost their sales.

Para Ti, Mujer is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:00am to 6:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. So, be sure you stop by to check out the store's offering or find out how you can help with this effort.
  
Charlottesville Chosen for 2011 Winebloggers Conference
 
Charlottesville is excited to announce that it has been chosen as the site of the American Wine Bloggers Conference on July 22nd through July 24th of 2011. The Conference is the premier conference for the wine industry worldwide. Two sites are chosen each year including one site in Europe and one site in the United States. The Conference allows wine bloggers, writers, new media innovators, and wine industry leaders to converge around the world for three days of blogging, vineyard visitations, and wine drinking. According to the Wine Bloggers website, three day symposiums allow for a unique "opportunity to learn about and discuss the intersection of food and wine with the world of new media including blogging, social media, and more."

Virginia's wine industry is especially interesting to visitors since Virginia wines offer a taste that is more similar to European wines than other bold California varieties. The Wine Bloggers' website also noted that the number of wineries in Virginia has tripled in the last 15 years to over 140, placing it fifth in the United States, and the geography boasts six separate AVAs: Eastern Shore, Monticello Northern Neck, North Fork of Roanoke, Rocky Knob, and Shenandoah Valley.
 
CNBC Ranks Virginia as 2nd Top Rate for Business
 
It's a good time to be a Virginian. On July 13, 2010, CNBC announced that it chose Virginia as its "Second Top State for Business." According to CNBC, "What separates the top states from the rest is their ability to cope with economic stress, offering environments that allow businesses to thrive even in a slowdown."

The internationally-respected business news channel evaluated each state in a thorough, 40-factor process. The factors they considered ranged the gamut from tax burdens on businesses and the number of patents in a state to K-12 test scores and air quality. Broadly speaking, the different measurements were categorized as: workforce quality, education, economy, business friendliness, quality of life, technology and innovation, cost of doing business, cost of living, transportation and infrastructure, and access to capital. Virginia stood out especially for reasonable sales, corporate tax rates, and personal income.

Virginia earned "America's Best State for Business" from the news service in 2007 and 2009, but this year, Texas took first place. Nonetheless, these awards come amidst other prestigious distinctions. In the past year, Virginia has been ranked as the "Healthiest Place to Live" by Men's Journal, and the "Top Place to Retire" by Kiplinger magazine.
  
Speak! Language Center Promotes Cultural Understanding
 
Founded by Italian Professor Christina Ball, Speak! Language Center aims to empower community members through cultural classes and events. Speak!, which is located on Second Street in downtown Charlottesville, provides a variety of language courses to individuals of all ages and learning levels. It offers adults both personal and professional language enrichment. Some of the most popular programs at the Center are Spanish, Italian, and French. However, the Chinese, Japanese, and Russian programs are also growing rapidly. Core courses are held each season and consist of meeting once or twice a week for a 6 to 10 week period. A two week intensive Plunge! Spanish curriculum is also offered and is ideal for individuals who need Spanish for their jobs and are looking for a quick and efficient language course.

In addition to adult language courses, Speak! is able to provide onsite language training services through the "Language for the Workplace" program in which a teacher is sent to a local business to cater a language course to a particular industry's needs. The courses are aimed at creating a better relationship between customers and employees who come from different cultures. The onsite language courses are extremely beneficial to businesses and institutions in our increasingly multi-lingual society.

Speak! has also introduced a new program, Speak! Kids, which offers children between the ages of 4 to 15 various opportunities to learn a new language and culture. Summer programs designed for children, language enrichment programs at area schools, and kid-friendly cultural events are some of the unique learning opportunities offered by through the program.

Whether you are planning a trip abroad, preparing for a job, or looking for a unique and beneficial learning experience, Speak! will provide you with an active opportunity to become familiar with foreign languages and cultures. If you would like more information about the upcoming course offerings and events, be sure to drop by Speak! on Second Street SE or visit the website ONLINE.
 
Non-Profit Offering Reentry Support to Women in Charlottesville Celebrates Grand Opening
 
On June 4th, Women of Restoration (WOR) celebrated its recent move from the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road to a new location at 1513 East High Street. Women of Restoration, which has been in operation since 2002, is a non-profit organization offering reentry services to women from all backgrounds of life. The primary goal of WOR is to reduce the recidivism rate among women who have been incarcerated by providing group support, guidance, and the basic necessities of life. Presently, WOR offers a support group every Monday night and a 12-step recovery meeting on Tuesday evenings.

The new, larger facility will allow WOR to offer many additional services for women in the community who desire to rehabilitate themselves physically, emotionally, and financially. New curriculum will include anger management, parenting, and health classes, as well as instruction on searching for jobs and writing résumés. The extra space at this new location will also allow WOR to offer onsite child care while mothers attend groups and classes, a computer lab where women can learn basic computer skills related to finding a job or learning about educational opportunities, and a library with books that can be checked out by clients.
  
Charlottesville Named One of the Top Places to Retire
 
Charlottesville has been named one of the country's top five cities for retirees by Kiplinger.com, a publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice from Washington, D.C. The decision was made based on many influential factors such as state tax rates, exemptions for various retirement incomes, low crime rates, access to airports, local transportation and access to leisure activities. Charlottesville has received similar awards in the past and has earned a reputation as being one of the most livable places in the country. In 2004, the City was named the "Best Place to Live in America" by Cities Ranked and Rated, and Charlottesville has consistently been listed among Money and Fortune magazines' "Best Places to Live" and "Best Places to Retire". 
 
New Non-Profit Supporting Female Entreprenuers in C-ville Hosts Grand Opening
 
On Friday, May 28th, Banah Familia ("building families") will celebrate its Grand Opening at its new location on 315 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA, beside Random Row Books. Join the Banah Family anytime between 4:00pm and 6:00pm to learn more about this new non-profit organization striving to empower women and girls in the Charlottesville community through entrepreneurship.

Banah Familia, a program of the Virginia Organizing project, is a social, learning, and coaching community for established and aspiring female entrepreneurs. The organization's mission is to provide innovative workforce development and socio-economic empowerment programs for women and girls that educate, strengthen, uplift, and ignite them with discovering their unique path. In doing this, Banah Familia provides dynamic, inclusive, culturally relevant programming such as the Banah Institute and the Banah Girls Development Academy.

Visit Banah Familia ONLINE for more information. If you'd like to find out how you can become involved in Banah efforts, EMAIL Susan McCabe, co-founder of the organization.

 
Alakazam Celebrates 5th Anniversary
 
This month, Alakazam Toys celebrated its 5th Anniversary downtown. The locally owned toy store, which opened in spring 2005, specializes in finely made art materials, natural fiber dolls, wooden toys and other unique playthings. Each item sold in the store is hand selected by Cassandra Mathis, co-owner of Alakazam, based on quality and craftsmanship. According to Cassandra, "Opening the store was a new adventure, but we have been lucky to have such good business. It makes the kids happy; it's wonderful to hear them say that that the toys in the store are so cool!"

Currently, Alakazam has plenty of new toys in stock for the spring season. Some of the most popular items include: hex bugs, bike spinners, mood rings, and treasure pouches filled with gemstones. My Little Sandboxes, which are themed miniature sandboxes for children are also available, as well as Green Toys - blocks, cooking sets, jump ropes, etc. that are made out of recycled milk containers.

In addition to offering high quality, specialty inventory, the store's success can also be attributed to its regular hosting of children's events from story hour and face painting to music time and craft activities. In fact, Alakazam will be participating in the Virginia Discovery Museum's family music festival, Discoveroo, which will be held at the Pavilion on May 2nd. There will be plenty of activities at the Alakazam booth, including a raffle with great prizes, freebies for the kids, face painting, and chair massage for adults. Also on May 8th, the store will host a card making workshop for children from 12pm to 3pm in celebration of Mother's Day.

Congratulations to Alakazam on five years in business - we wish you continued success! Be sure to drop by Alakazam at 100 East Main Street on the Downtown Mall to congratulate Cassandra and Yvonne on their years of success! You can also visit the store ONLINE for more information about available toys, special promotions and events, and newsletter sign up.
 
New Art Galleries Open Downtown
 
The Downtown Mall is happy to welcome Warm Springs Gallery and Chroma Projects Art Laboratory, two new promising art galleries that hope to introduce the public to the work of local area artists. The director of Warm Springs Gallery, Barbara Buhr, opened her gallery on February 19th, and since then has seen great success. Barbara has operated a gallery in Warm Springs, Virginia for 15 years. She decided to open a second location on the Downtown Mall because she was already servicing a significant number of clients in the Charlottesville area.

Currently, Warm Springs Gallery is featuring the work of two artists - painter, Chris Burch and ceramic specialist, Phil Elson, and the gallery is filled with pieces by both men. This is in line with Barbara's desire to incorporate both 2D and 3D artwork in all of her gallery displays. In the near future, be on the lookout for a new art show in the gallery, which will feature Japanese calligraphy. As a former Asian studies professor at Mary Baldwin College, Barbara is particularly excited about this upcoming display.

Warm Springs Gallery is open from 11:00am to 5:00pm, Thursday through Saturday, but Barbara hopes to expand her hours over the coming months to accommodate the in-flow of customers that she has been receiving. If you would like more information about the upcoming shows or the featured artists, be sure to drop by the gallery located at 105 Third Street NE.

Chroma Projects Art Laboratory is also a new face to the artistic arena of Charlottesville. It is a place where the focus is on experimentation, investigation, and collaboration. The grand opening of the Chroma gallery was celebrated the week of March 15th with a special event on Wednesday, March 17th and a public art opening on Friday, March 19th. The owner and director of Chroma Projects Art Laboratory is Deborah McLeod, the former Exhibitions Curator at the McLean Project for the Arts.

The gallery itself is vast in physical space and is housed in a historic art-deco building. Spanning two floors, the gallery boasts two project spaces in addition to the main gallery, a black box for video and time based work, a communal lounge area, kitchen, and several artist studios. It is a diverse group of artists that include a painter, an architect, a jeweler, ceramic and concrete artists, and a printmaker.

The first show titled "In the Beginning" is running from March 19th through May 1st. For further information on the program, exhibitions, and studios, contact Deborah McLeod at 434-202-0269 or visit the gallery located at 418 East Main Street on the Downtown Mall.
 
Virginia Discovery Museum Celebrates 20 Years on the Downtown Mall
 
Over its two decades on the Downtown Mall, the nationally-recognized, hands-on children's museum, has welcomed over 875,000 people - from infants to great-grandparents from all over the world - to help bring young children and families together to engage minds, excite imaginations, and explore the world around them through interactive learning.

Now the Virginia Discovery Museum will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in May with a month's worth of special family activities dubbed the "Most Magnificent Month of May." Anniversary events are anticipated to begin on Saturday, May 1st, with a Proclamation Day re-opening of the museum that will include a ribbon-cutting and ceremonial key-turning at the front door at 9:45am. Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris, Albemarle Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek, and Museum Director Peppy Linden will present brief remarks.

There are three main events that will headline the festivities during the month-long celebration. DISCOVEROO will take place on Sunday, May 2nd. This is a family music festival that will be held at the Pavilion. On Saturday, May 15th, the museum will be welcoming the grand opening of the original "It's Easy Being Green" environmental exhibit in the back gallery of the museum. Finally, to conclude the festivities on Saturday, May 29th, the 20th Annual Discovery Dash will be held at the Monticello High School track.

For more about the Virginia Discovery Museum and the "Most Magnificent Month of May" 20th Anniversary celebration, please check out the museum's website or visit them at the east of the Downtown Mall.
 
Search Mojo Office Opens in Charlottesville
 
Search Mojo is a full service search engine marketing agency working to increase lead generation and sales for its clients by staying on top of current search engine marketing trends and search engine algorithms and implementing appropriate targeted strategies and tactics. It has recently expanded into new office space in Charlottesville, located near the Downtown Mall area.

Founded in 2005, Search Mojo has quickly become a leader in the search engine marketing industry. By keeping its focus on search engine marketing, Search Mojo has brought in-class solutions and account management to its clients. Unlike other agencies that focus on all aspects of marketing, Search Mojo consciously focuses solely on search engine marketing to ensure that it continues to bring its clients the best search engine marketing results in an ever-changing market. Some of the perks of Search Mojo that other search engines don't provide include extended reporting, benchmarking, no limit on keywords, and providing edits on the web server.

Despite the downturn in the economy, the CEO of Search Mojo, Jane Driscoll, thinks that the expanded space will be necessary to adequately house their current employees and allow for continued growth and hiring in 2010 and beyond. In turn, this new space in Charlottesville will allow them to handle their growth accordingly.
 
Retail Relay Expands Operations in the City
 
Founded by entrepreneur Zach Buckner, Retail Relay opened its virtual doors in fall of 2008. The company makes shopping for groceries and household items more convenient and eco-friendly because buying from multiple merchants is done online through one site and pick up for all items is offered in a single location. In a nutshell, the Retail Relay concept is very simple - shop, click, and pick up. You place your order on the Retail Relay website, choosing from thousands of items from businesses such as Feast, Gearharts Fine Chocolates, Sammy Snacks, etc. and pick it up at a pick-up location. Pick up is free and available Monday through Friday from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at approximately 13 sites in the Charlottesville area including places such as Milano Café, Topeka Steakhouse, and Boar's Head Inn. Home delivery is also available to customers for a small fee. It's as simple as that!
 
In addition to being convenient for customers and environmentally sound, Retail Relay, which focuses primarily on local produce and foods, helps to support the Charlottesville community by keeping business in the hands of local stores, restaurants, and farms and money filtering throughout the area. The company truly offers a "direct connection between farm and customer," states Neal Halvorson-Taylor who handles business development at Retail Relay.

Formerly located in the Charlottesville Technology Incubator (CTI) that helps small, technology startups get their feet off the ground, the expanding company recently moved to its new location, a warehouse on River Road, which allows administration and operations to take place in the same space. Retail Relay now offers products from 25 local stores, with sorting of orders taking place in the warehouse, and staff are excited that company has itself become an incubator of sorts by serving as a marketplace where small businesses without a brick and mortar facility can sell their products to the community. For more information or to become a customer, visit Retail Relay online.
 
New C-ville Business Helps Customers Become Backyard Locavores
 
C'ville Foodscapes, the first food-producing gardening business to open in the Charlottesville area, launches this spring with a mission to help Charlottesville-area residents grow healthy food in their own backyards using organic, sustainable methods. According to Angel Shockley, one of the six co-owners of C'ville Foodscapes, "So many people want to pick lettuce, tomatoes or peas from their gardens. But, they don't have the time or they've never gardened before or they've tried it and given up. C'ville Foodscapes provides every level of service - from just helping you get started to maintaining your vegetable garden all season long and everything in between."

A worker-owned cooperative, C'ville Foodscapes' six founding partners combine years of gardening and farming experience as well as training in organic, permaculture and biodynamic methods to help their customers create their own personalized "foodscape." The cooperative conducts its business according to three guiding principles: 1) Everyone deserves access to fresh and healthy food. 2) A secure local food system strengthens the community. 3) Growing at least some of your own food is fun and saves money.

C'ville Foodscapes offers a full range of services including: garden preparation (design consultation, soil testing, soil amendments, soil building, sod removal), garden installation (tilling, lawn transformation, in-ground bed creation, raised beds, container gardens), garden growing (planting and maintenance), and garden system additions (compost systems, rain barrels, drip irrigation, fencing). "We tailor each garden to the needs of the individual customer," claims Sam Pierceall, C'ville Foodscapes co-owner. "We're growing our own local and heirloom varieties, and we can advise you on what will work best in your yard."

C'ville Foodscapes strives to make a positive contribution to the community, operate in an environmentally responsible way, and contribute to the happiness and fulfillment of its workers and its customers. Committed to providing access to local, fresh, nutritious food to everyone, C'ville Foodscapes has established the Garden Grants Program for those unable to pay for its food-producing gardening services. C'ville Foodscapes allocates 1% of its monthly profit to the program.

C-ville Foodscapes will be holding an official launch party on Sunday, March 7th from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at Random Row Books in Charlottesville. Be sure to drop by and join everyone at the new gardening company for a seed swap (bring seeds to share), garden crafts, live music, yummy food, and a raffle! For more information, visit C'ville Foodscapes online. Or, call 434-806-6255.
 
C-ville Ranked 5th Healthiest City by Men's Journal
 
In the February issue of Men's Journal magazine, the City of Charlottesville is listed as one of the healthiest cities to live in the country. The new accounting used information compiled by Sperling's Ranked and Rated in their Best Places to Live survey to give editors a snapshot of long term health conditions. The national magazine looked at quality of life issues that contribute to a healthier lifestyle including: availability of local farms and products, shorter commute times, sidewalk access and pedestrian friendly community, lower pollution levels, available and expanding green spaces, and mild climate and sunny days. The other top ranking cities were 1) Iowa City, IA; 2) Boulder, CO; 3) Logan, UT; 4) Northampton, MA. 
 
Fifth Season Gardening Opens in Charlottesville
 
In early November, Charlottesville welcomed another eco-friendly business to the City - Fifth Season Gardening. Headquartered in Carrboro, North Carolina, the company was founded in 2000 and boasts four stores in North Carolina. Fifth Season's new Charlottesville location at 900 Preston Avenue is the business's first in Virginia. The Charlottesville store is nearly 5,000 square feet, and is the company's second largest store besides its headquarters in Carrboro.

As one of the original hydroponic retailers in the Southeast, hydroponics - which is basically growing plants in water - remains one of the main aspects of the business. Hydroponic systems are displayed onsite, and staff is available to show customers exactly how to set up such a system and direct them to all the necessary supplies. According to store manager, Joey Cagle, hydroponics produces healthy herbs, fruits, and vegetables and is currently being used to feed the hungry in many third world countries with little to no food supply.

In addition to hydroponics, Fifth Season Gardening also specializes in organic gardening, providing supplies for smaller/backyard gardeners all the way up to large farmers who need materials in bulk. With organic gardening, one of the main aspects involves building up soil without chemicals using organic amendments, fertilizers, and pesticides. "This helps keep soil healthy and protects the eco-system," Cagle states.

Beer and wine making supplies are also available at Fifth Season Gardening. The main focus with this aspect of the business is offering a variety of high quality ingredients. This means that brewers can expect the best grains, hops and yeast, and winemakers can choose from stock ingredient kits of finings and fine juices, the Vintners Reserve World Vineyard Collection, the Selection International Series, and many other providers.

To learn more about Fifth Season Gardening, be sure to stop by the new store on Preston Avenue or visit their website. And remember, the folks at Fifth Season are always available to help you with your gardening needs. 
  
Charlottesville Tops State in Economic Ranking

The Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities 2009 index ranked Charlottesville at 26th in the nation of the 124 smallest metropolitan areas. In 2008, the MSA was ranked 18th. The decline is primarily attributed to negative job growth over the most recent year.

The index ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary, and technology growth. The study looks at several categories of short and long-term job, wage and high tech company growth in each region and compares them to the national average. It uses data from Moody's Economy.com, the Census, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Charlottesville received the highest ranking of all Virginia small metros followed by Blacksburg (49th), Winchester (68th) and Harrisonburg (85th). Five large metros in Virginia also received rankings including Washington (25th), Lynchburg (60th), Virginia Beach (87th), Richmond (118th), and Roanoke (126th).  
    
Charlottesville Recognized for Entrepreneurial Activity
 
The Metro Charlottesville area has been named in the top 50 places in the country to launch a small business by Money Magazine. Charlottesville was also ranked 19th among smaller cities in the country with Billings, MT and Bismarck, ND taking the top spots. For all markets Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Houston, and Hartford made up the top five. Charlottesville and other Virginia cities have made similar lists in previous years but this is the first year that Charlottesville has been singled out as the only city in the state to make either the small, medium or large metropolitan listing.

According to the editors of the survey the top markets had "growing economies, affordable workers, stable housing markets, low crime -- these metro areas have all the features entrepreneurs need to thrive." The rankings cover hundreds of metropolitan areas and are based on job and income growth, business and living costs, crime, and educational attainment.

The City is no stranger to accolades. Charlottesville has the honor of besting 402 other metro areas in the United States and Canada to claim the title of "Best Place to Live" in "Cities Ranked and Rated" by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander.
  
Economic Impact of Tourism - Increases to $443 Million
 
Tourism expenditures increased in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, with visitor spending locally reaching over $443 million in 2008, a 2.0 percent increase over 2007.

The direct spending by domestic travelers supported 4,915 jobs, which generated over $86 million in wages and salaries. Local taxes, including sales and property taxes generated $15 million. The Virginia Tourism Corporation released the 2008 statewide tourism economic impact figures at the state's tourism conference. Virginia receives its annual economic impact data from the Travel Industry Association of America. City of Charlottesville specific numbers were also up 3.8% to $173 Million for calendar year 2008.

Despite the economic downturn, visitors continued to be attracted to the area for a variety of reasons. The newly opened Visitor Center at Monticello and the refurbished Downtown Mall are recent improvements that are drawing attention.
 
Virginia Top State for Business...Again
 
Virginia will remain in first place as Forbes.com's "Best State for Business." It is the fourth consecutive year Virginia has been top ranked. The Commonwealth finished in the top 10 in 3 of the 6 categories examined in the review, which was published today.

Forbes.com looks at rigorous qualifications, and the Commonwealth has come out on top again in quality of life, regulatory environment, and labor. The award from the world-recognized financial brand follows Virginia's most recent number one rankings from Pollina Corporate Real Estate and CNBC this past summer. Washington was ranked second by Forbes.com, followed by Utah, Colorado, and North Carolina. Georgia, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska and Oregon rounded out the top ten list.

The Forbes.com ranking considers states' business costs (cost of labor, energy, and taxes), labor issues (educational attainment, net migration, and projected population growth), regulatory environment (regulatory and tort environment, incentives, and bond ratings), economic climate (job, income, and gross state product growth, as well as unemployment and corporate headquarter relocations), growth prospects (projected job, income, and gross state product growth, as well as announced business openings and closings), and quality of life (index of schools, health, crime, cost of living, and poverty rates).
 
Three Charlottesville Firms Make INC 5000 List
 
Inc. Magazine recently released its list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the United States, and three Charlottesville-based companies are on the list. The Charlottesville contingent includes Dominion Digital, Rimm-Kauffman Group, and SNL Financial.

SNL was the largest of three Charlottesville-based companies to make the 2009 edition of the "Inc. 5000" list, with 2008 revenues of $86.3 million, an increase of 119% over three years. SNL rose through the rankings this year to No. 2514, up from its spot at No. 3213 on last year's list, and was one of only 20 Virginia-based companies on the list with revenues of $75 million or more.

Mike Chinn, SNL's president, commented, "We are once again honored to be included on the Inc. 5000 List. The recognition is a testament to the hard work, ingenuity and dedication to excellence of our more than 1,200 employees in nine cities across three continents. Despite the difficult economic climate, our company continues to grow at a favorable pace and remains a leader in the financial information sector."

Congratulations to each of these companies and best wishes for continued success in Charlottesville and around the world.
 
CNBC Names Virginia the Top State for Business
 
It's a good time to be a Virginian. On July 23, 2009, Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced that, for the second time in three years, CNBC chose Virginia as its "Top State for Business." According to Governor Kaine, "this recognition shines an international spotlight on the Commonwealth, distinguishing Virginia as a stellar business location-an especially important distinction in the current economic climate."

The internationally-respected business news channel evaluated each state in a thorough, 40-factor process. The factors they considered ranged the gamut from tax burdens on businesses and the number of patents in a state to K-12 test scores and air quality. Broadly speaking, the different measurements broke down into ten categories: workforce quality, education, economy, business friendliness, quality of life, technology and innovation, cost of doing business, cost of living, transportation and infrastructure, and access to capital. Virginia stood out especially for reasonable sales, corporate tax rates, and personal income.

Virginia earned "America's Best State for Business" from the news service in 2007, but in 2008 it fell temporarily to second place. This year, CNBC also chose Virginia as its 7th best economy nationally, up ten spots from 17th in 2008. These awards come amidst other prestigious distinctions. In just the last month, Virginia has been ranked the second "Best State to Start a Business" by U.S. News and World Report, "No. 1 Pro-Business State" by Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc., and the second "Best State for Business" by Directorship magazine. Such accolades remind Virginians that, in the words of Governor Kaine, the state, "has what it takes to emerge from an economy turned upside down."
 
Champion Tutoring Celebrates 15th Anniversary
 
This year marks Champion Tutoring's 15th year of providing top-quality, individualized tutoring to students in the Charlottesville area. Since 1994, when a local middle-school math teacher founded the business, Champion has grown from a one-room office with a few teachers covering basic subjects to a suite of offices located in Ivy Square with a faculty of over two dozen expert and certified teachers capable of addressing most any subject or educational challenge. Despite the business's expansion over the years, current owner and Executive Director Dr. Anna Patchias is proud of the fact that Champion has remained true to its founding principles and upheld the vision of a completely customized approach to the tutoring process. According to Dr. Patchias, Champion utilizes a different paradigm from other tutoring options - Champion's tutoring is "flexible and evolving, with teacher, student and parent involvement in the creation of individualized curriculum."

Champion offers tutoring to students of all ages on a wide variety of subjects, including math (all levels through college), English, foreign languages, history, sciences, standardized test preparation (SAT/PSAT, SOL, TOEFL, GED, LSAT, etc.), and much more. In order to celebrate the company's anniversary, Dr. Patchias has added several new programs to the summer curriculum. The first is an SAT-Math Boot Camp, which provides an in-depth, comprehensive review of all major math topics covered on the SAT, followed by breakout sessions that allow students to be tutored one-on-one with a trained SAT instructor. Champion Tutoring is also offering a series of Writing Workshops, which were designed by and will be taught by Danielle DeRise, Champion's Director of Education. These workshops include classes for younger students that focus on the fundamentals of grammar and creative writing, as well as sessions for older students that provide instruction on writing superior college essays.

Congratulations to Champion Tutoring on 15 years of educating the Charlottesville-Albemarle community! For more information about Champion Tutoring and program offerings, call 434-984-2821.

Environmental Standards Hosts Open House to Celebrate Recent Move

On June 25th, Environmental Standards hosted an open house to celebrate its recent move to 1208 East Market Street. The privately held consulting firm, established in 1987 and headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, specializes in the areas of environmental chemistry quality assurance, geosciences, ecological and human health risk assessments, and information technologies. A Charlottesville office was opened with three employees in July 2005 after the company was awarded a five-year contract with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority to manage the groundwater cleanup project at the Ivy Landfill.

In just a little under four years, Environmental Standards has expanded its staff to eight - one of the main reasons behind the company's April 1st move to its new location, which allows for each employee to have his or her own office, plenty of storage space for equipment, and ample room for future expansion. The company sees the Charlottesville area as a central location with good opportunity for growth, and it hopes to continue expanding its services to the community. "We have seen steady growth and currently have projects in Dublin, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Fredericksburg, as well as the immediate Charlottesville area," says Philip McKalips, director of the local office. For information about Environmental Standards and its services, call 434-293-4039.
 
C-ville Restaurants Go Green
 
Charlottesville is proud to be home to two Virginia Green Restaurants, as certified by the Department of Environmental Quality: Sticks Kebob Shop and Hamilton's at First and Main. To make it onto the growing list, restaurants must show that they excel in eliminating the use of Styrofoam, minimizing disposables, recycling grease, recycling and reducing waste, using water efficiently, and conserving energy. Sticks, a fast-service, Mediterranean-themed restaurant, boasts exceptional disposable containers, made from either recycled content paper or from bio-based, compostable materials. Hamilton's, a contemporary American Fine Dining restaurant on the Downtown Mall, stood out thanks in part to its decision to prefer locally grown, organic produce, products made from recycled content, and business conducted with vendors who express a commitment to the environment. Owner Bill Hamilton claims, "We know that our clients are interested in these efforts. They do it in their homes. So I think that we have a responsibility to do that in the places they choose to spend their money."

Virginia Green is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), and the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (VHTA). The program certifies more than restaurants. They also consider lodging establishments and attractions. Charlottesville boasts Virginia Green facilities in all three categories, thanks in part to the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau's (CACVB) "Green Challenge." The challenge is a call to local businesses to become certified, and it comes with incentives, such as special placement on the CAVCB's new homepage. CACVB Executive Director, Kurt Burkhart, feels that "going Green fits perfectly with our community's landscape." He explains that "Destinations like the Greater Charlottesville region are well positioned to take full advantage of going Green. Our office will do whatever we can to assist local businesses that want to get hard-wired for this next wave of economic prosperity."
  
C-ville Ranked the 4th Best City by Kiplinger's
 
On May 26, 2009, Kiplinger's Personal Finance announced that Charlottesville was ranked fourth on its coveted "10 Best Cities of 2009" list! This year's tagline was "It's All about Jobs," and Charlottesville was listed for its impressive employment market, with some mention given to jobs created by UVA. The article also recognizes the unique "feel" of the community as "an unexpected blend of Southern charm and liberal edge with a strong business base."

What did it take to get on the list? Cities were evaluated by Kevin Stolarick, Research Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank on economic prosperity. Stolarick based his decisions mostly on the job market, which meant more than just looking at current employment opportunities. He also considered what types of jobs an area offered and the talent of local employees. Stolarick explained that a healthy job market, with good job diversity, a number of creative employment opportunities, and able workers, signals that a city has room for growth. Therefore, these locales will get a "head start" when the economy turns around. He also evaluated unemployment rates, population growth, income growth, the cost of living in an area, as well as interviews conducted during his trips to the cities.
 
Forbes Rates Charlottesville as a Top College Town for Jobs
 
This month, Forbes named Charlottesville number eleven on its "Top College Towns for Jobs" list. Charlottesville gets this prestigious ranking not just for its "idyllic" community and "grand Jeffersonian architecture," but also for its notable job market, where jobs grew 2.47% from 2008, and 12.8% of metropolitan residents are employed by the University of Virginia.
 
Forbes explains that right now, it is especially good to be a college town. For example, while United States employment fell by 3.2% in the last year, 62 college towns grew, Charlottesville being one of them. Why? Large universities have impressive research budgets, which create jobs now and develop ideas that create spin-off companies and also jobs later. According to John Stapleford, senior economist at Moody's Economy.com, "for every job created by a university or college, between one-half and one full job are created in the surrounding economy... from the spending patterns of the university, the spending of employees, spending of the students, as well as the flow of visitors." These spending patterns fuel businesses throughout the community. Couple that with the inexpensive, highly-skilled labor provided by recent grads, and it's no wonder why college towns are a good place to be.
 
To view Forbes' "Top College Towns for Jobs" list, CLICK HERE.
 
Shop Charlottesville Makes an Impression
 
The Shop Charlottesville initiative, launched by the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development in partnership with local merchants, has generated a great deal of interest with the release of a spring marketing blitz. The marketing effort includes a TV spot featuring city employees and area merchants thanking the community for shopping Charlottesville. The first phase also includes limited radio and print advertising encouraging visits to the initiative's website.
 
The Shopcharlottesville.org website was launched in conjunction with the effort on April 4th and has received over 50,000 visits in less than a month. The site seeks to encourage consumers to spend their retail dollars locally by connecting them to local opportunities. In addition, visitors can print coupons, sign up for a monthly newsletter, and register for a monthly drawing of local prizes.
 
Also in partnership with Better World Betty, a local non-profit that promotes recycling, Shop Charlottesville announced the release of reusable shopping bags. The bag, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, features the Shop Charlottesville logo as well as the Better World Betty logo. Over 1,600 bags have been distributed free of charge to the public at a number of events throughout the month. Please CLICK HERE to visit the Shop Charlottesville website.
 
C-ville Chosen as Top Place to do Business by Forbes Magazine
 
Charlottesville has been named the eleventh best small city in the United States in Forbes Magazine's Best Places for Business and Careers ranking. Charlottesville and other Virginia cities have made the list in previous years, but this is the first year that Charlottesville has been singled out as the only city in the state to make either the small or large metropolitan top 25 listing. The rankings cover 179 small metro areas and are based on job and income growth, business and living costs, crime, and educational attainment. The City ranked particularly high in the area of educational attainment.

According to Aubrey Watts, Director of Economic Development for the City, "We are very pleased to be recognized in the Forbes survey once again this year for our healthy business climate and competitive costs for doing business. We hope that this important ranking encourages other enterprising businesses to consider Charlottesville home."

The City is no stranger to accolades, and in fact Charlottesville has the honor of besting 402 other metro areas in the United States and Canada to claim the title of Best Place to Live in Cities Ranked and Rated by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander. To view some of the City's other awards and recognitions, CLICK HERE.
 
Growing Technologies - Leveraging Technology in Your Business
 
Five years ago, Jenny Kim Heyns founded Growing Technologies, a small technology firm in the City of Charlottesville specializing in custom applications development. Since its inception, the business has upsized locations three times and is currently housed in a 1,500 square feet office space on Forest Street. The business's staff has also grown steadily over the years, and Jenny now employs eight employees, including several developers/programmers, a quality assurance analyst, and a director of technology.
 
Growing Technologies has a wide variety of clients ranging from financial organizations to membership based businesses to small businesses looking to leverage technology. The company offers technical services such as custom design and development, graphic design, project management, and staff augmentation. All projects done by Growing Technologies are implemented with a precise methodology to ensure success. This methodology involves sitting down with businesses to determine what they are trying to accomplish, what project features they want to implement, and what their budget and timeline are for the project. Throughout this entire process, Growing Technologies attempts to provide guidelines for clients on the best way to implement technology.
 
In addition to serving its clients, Growing Technologies is also serving the Charlottesville community by lending its technological expertise to local non-profit organizations such as Computers4Kids (C4K). Last year, the company helped create an after school activity for C4K graduates called Stay Active, which continues the mentoring that graduates received while they were in the program by providing a weekly class on technical skills such as graphic design, web site development, and project and time management. Growing Technologies staff also volunteers in the C4K Peer Mentoring Program.
 
For more information, or to find out how Growing Technologies can help your business leverage technology, please contact Jenny at 434-296-1500.
 
New Businesses on the Downtown Mall
 
Great Graphics, a retail store focusing on vintage posters, prints and custom framing, has relocated to a store front location on the Downtown Mall at 407 East Main Street. After 25 years in Georgetown, the business moved to Richmond and then to a series of Charlottesville locations including the Corner, Meadowbrook Shopping Center, and the Arlington Road area beginning in 1997. When owner John Cassell decided to reinvigorate the art component of the business, he knew he needed to be on the Downtown Mall with access to its tourists and regular walk-in traffic. According to John, "the mall has more of an art scene that I wanted to be part of" and he adds, "it is reminiscent of the atmosphere in Georgetown in the 1980s." Great Graphics features a large selection of the best commercial graphics from the Golden Age of Illustration including many book and magazine covers. For more information, stop by the store's location on the Downtown Mall.

Renovations to the former landmark location of the Hardware Store are nearing completion, and a new tenant for the mall level space has been secured. Urban Outfitters featuring clothing, accessories, and apartment wares for young women and men will add new flair to an already diverse downtown retail mix beginning in April.

Urban Outfitters frequently seeks authentic urban environments in college towns for their locations. Chris Engel, Assistant Director of Economic Development, says that in this challenging economic environment the fact that a major retailer is willing to make a significant investment and open a new store speaks well for Charlottesville. According to Engel, the City believes that "the customers the store draws will have a positive spin-off for other mall area retailers and restaurants."

Urban Outfitters has grown from a single location in downtown Philadelphia in 1970 to a retailer with an international presence and over 100 stores. The Charlottesville location at 316 East Main Street will be only the third store in Virginia.
  
Charlottesville Receives Multiple Recognitions
 
Charlottesville Ranked 2nd Best Place to Retire by Black Enterprise Magazine - Ranking based on affordable health care, housing prices, public schools, crime levels, traffic congestion and commercial air access. Many of the 20 locations recognized are in the South, where the climate can be milder, but only Charlottesville and Virginia Beach (#9) were chosen from Virginia.
 
Charlottesville Ranked One of the Eight Best Places to Run in the US by Trail Runner Magazine - Recognized particularly for the area's great places to run off-road. The large number of races in Charlottesville also played a big role in the City's high ranking.
 
Charlottesville Area Ranked 13th in the Nation for Raising a Family by Forbes - Ranking based on school system, cost of living, graduation rate, standardized scores, home price, property tax rate, percentage of homes occupied by owner, per-capita income, air quality, crime rate and commute time. Recognition given primarily for the area's high, average SAT score of 1,098, which is among the best in the nation.
 
Belmont Recognized by Travel and Leisure Magazine - Belmont area recognized as an "up and coming neighborhood." Neighborhood profile will be featured in the magazine in the near future
 
Charlottesville Ranked 7th Healthiest City in America 
 
Charlottesville has been named one of the top ten healthiest cities in America by AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for Americans age 50+ and the world's largest-circulation magazine with more than 34 million readers.
 
According to the magazine, Charlottesville was chosen due to the City's strong focus on medicine. It ranks fourth among US metropolitan areas in the number of physicians per capita, and it also makes the top ten for family-practice doctors, oncologists and cardiologists. The magazine states that the primary reason for the City's high ranking is the University of Virginia's medical school and 572-bed teaching hospital.
 
Additionally, the magazine noted that Charlottesville has the happiest and healthiest eaters, and its residents are most likely to state that they are satisfied with their lives. With an average of 219 sunny days per year and the City's proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains and numerous nature trails, it is also a place where residents, in particular senior citizens, can easily exercise outdoors.
 
AARP evaluated more than 20 different criteria in ranking the healthiest cities, including body mass index, cholesterol, alcohol use, access to affordable healthcare, stress index and state legislation for smoke-free public areas. Ann Arbor, Michigan was ranked number one, with 86 percent of residents exercising daily and 580 physicians per 100,000 people. The others in the top ten are Honolulu, HI; Madison, WI; Santa Fe, NM; Fargo, ND; Boulder, CO; San Francisco Bay Area; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and Naples-Marco Island, FL.
 
Charlottesville Ranked One of the Top 20 US Towns
 
The City of Charlottesville was once again recognized as a top place to live in the country.  According to Outside, Charlottesville is among the 20 best towns in America to locate and enjoy outdoor living. Charlottesville was the only city in Virginia to make the list. 
 
Outside, which has 2.3 million readers, chose the towns based on their opportunities for living the "good life," whether those are cultural, natural amenities or fitness-focused. The magazine says its top picks represent the best that the country has to offer in terms of revitalization. Outside senior editor Jeremy Spencer said the magazine focused on cities that have evolved themselves in recent years. "These are classic examples of places that have reinvented themselves," he says. Washington, D.C. topped the list and was chosen due to its recent revitalization after years of economic hardship.