Minority Business Assistance
Charlottesville Office of Economic Development
The Office of Economic Development works to expand the Charlottesville tax base and to provide quality job opportunities for its citizens through new business development, retention/expansion initiatives, and workforce training. The following services are available to any City resident who owns a business or is interested in starting one.
If our office does not have an answer to your question, we will help you find the agency that does.
Demographic/Market Data and Research
We can provide you with information about the City and its residents.
Small Business Start-Up Assistance
Our office offers an interactive CD on how to start your business in Charlottesville. We also offer start up packages that include basic information on the following topics: writing a business plan, obtaining financing, registering your business with the federal, state and local government, etc. Please email Economic Development to request these materials.
Business First Visitation Program
If your business is located in the City, we would like to learn more about your operation and how we can better serve you. Please call 434-970-3110 to set up a visitation with a representative from our office.
Site Selection Assistance
Our website offers a searchable database of available sites in the City. We can also meet with you to determine a location in the City that will best suit your business needs.
Business Education Programs
We sponsor/support business workshops throughout the year for entrepreneurs. For more information about what our office can do for you, call 434-970-3110 or email Economic Development.
Central Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The CV SBDC provides area businesses with professional, one-on-one management counseling in a variety of financial, marketing, and operational areas as well as through sponsorship of training seminars. The CV SBDC also assists pre-venture and existing businesses in developing their business plans which include market analyses, creating financial projections, and identifying capital needs. For additional information about the SBDC, please visit their website.
SCORE provides free consulting services to both start-up and existing small businesses in the City of Charlottesville and counties of:
SCORE has more than 20 counselors, all of whom have many years of business experience in various fields such as restaurants, retail stores, construction, etc. SCORE also presents approximately 40 seminars each year on various business topics such as business planning, marketing, financing, etc.
Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise (DMBE)
DMBE is the state agency dedicated to enhancing the participation of small, women- and minority-owned businesses in Virginia’s procurement opportunities. DMBE is responsible for the administration of the Small, Women- and Minority-owned Business certification under Virginia’s "SWaM" Procurement Initiative. In 2006, Governor Kaine set forth a 40% goal of purchases from SWaMs for the Commonwealth and established a Small Business Set-Aside Program to enhance SWaM participation in procurement activities. Becoming SWaM certified includes you in the SWaM Vendor Directory, which is the listing used by state procurement officials to locate SWaM certified vendors and therefore increases your opportunity to be selected as a supplier for state agencies.
For more information about SWaM certification or to register online, visit their page.
Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)
The DMBE also administers the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, which exists for companies that are doing business in the Transportation Sector and are looking to win contracts which are funded by Federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Companies typically include heavy construction companies building roads and bridges, engineering firms, railroad industries, Port Authorities, airport design, and airport concessions companies.
For more information about DBE certification or to download an application, visit their page.
Virginia Department of Business Assistance - Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA)
The VSBFA along with the DMBE administers the P.A.C.E. program, which provides access to capital for disadvantaged Virginia businesses by encouraging banks to make loans that they would otherwise not make due to a borrower’s risk profile. The program provides two financing mechanisms, the Capital Access Fund for Disadvantaged Businesses and the Loan Guaranty Fund for Disadvantaged Businesses. To apply for financing through the Capital Access Fund, a new or existing business makes application to a VSBFA participating bank. If the participating bank determines that the proposed financing request does not meet the bank’s normal underwriting guidelines, the bank will then determine whether the proposed loan transaction would be acceptable if the loan were enrolled in P.A.C.E.
With the Loan Guaranty Fund, the bank determines if a government guaranty is needed. If so, the bank and the applicant company fill out very brief applications. The bank submits the applications with copies of their credit write-ups, commitment letter, the applicant company’s financial statements, and business plan. Loan closings for approved requests are scheduled by the bank and the bank uses its own documentation procedures and forms. The interest rate is set by the bank. For more information or to download an application, visit the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity website.
Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (VMSDC)
The VMSDC fosters relationships between minority suppliers and their potential clients: Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies and universities. It administers the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, which allows business with at least 51% minority ownership to be listing in the VMSDC vendor database and gain access to buyers through networking events and educational workshops and training. Below are the membership benefits:
- Listing in online database of certified MBEs
- Inclusion in private notifications of contract opportunities
- Access to networking events to personally meet corporate decision makers and other MBEs
- Access to Council’s training and educational programs
- Access to Council’s staff as a resource
- Credibility with major companies who seek certified suppliers
- Opportunity to raise the company’s profile by serving in leadership roles within the Council
- Access to Council’s Reading Room, a storehouse of exclusive materials provided by corporate members to assist MBEs in preparing proposals
- Access to national resources through the National Minority Supplier Development Council
- Opportunity to be recognized publicly as a Council member and supporter
For more information about VMSDC or to download an application for certification, visit the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA’s Section 8(a) Business Development Program provides various forms of assistance (management and technical assistance, financial assistance, government contracting assistance, and advocacy support) to foster the growth and development of businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. SBA assists these businesses to gain equal access to the resources necessary to develop their business by teaching them how to compete in the Federal contracting arena and how to take advantage of greater subcontracting opportunities available from large firms as the result of public-private partnerships. More specifically, the SBA will enter into contracts with other federal agencies and subcontract the performance of such contracts to 8(a) program participants. For more information or to complete an online application, visit the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.
The SBA also administers the Small Disadvantaged Business certification, which allows a firm to be added to an online registry of SDB-certified firms. Businesses remain on the list for three years, and contracting officers and prime contractors may search this registry for potential suppliers. To qualify as a small disadvantaged business, a firm must be owned by one or more individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. While the 8(a) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged firms, SBD certification strictly pertains to benefits in Federal Procurement. Companies which are 8(a) firms automatically qualify for SDB certification. For more information, visit the How to win contracts page.