Launched in Lynchburg Gives Local Boost
By Jeremy Angione
Lynchburg is home to a rapidly growing entrepreneurial community. Lynchstock, Vector Space, Vintage Lynchburg and El Jefe are just a few examples of the unique startups currently budding in the Hill City.
Opportunity Lynchburg, the city’s Office of Economic Development’s business resource branch, capitalized on that industrialist spirit with a more focused program to cultivate a business-savvy community.
Launched in Lynchburg went live this past July, but the concept was born out of Co.Starters, a nine-week business development program.
“The concept was to elevate entrepreneurship in the community by connecting established entrepreneurs with those looking for information directly, in an online platform,” Assistant Director of Economic Development Anna Bentson said.
Launched in Lynchburg was designed by local marketing firm 434 Marketing, who are also users of the business resource. The site has a clean look and offers a simple, three-branch model.
The Launched in Lynchburg series offers video profiles of affluent local entrepreneurs and their journey to success. The Launch Pad presents entrepreneurs discussing the function and features of their businesses, as well as their hopes for future developments.
Additionally, Resource Videos help to empower local business owners by having them present advice on topics that might catch the aspiring entrepreneur off guard. Some topics include: Determining Your Break-Even Point; How to Raise Capital; Identifying Your Brand and many more.
“The other thing that we really wanted to do was provide a place for people to connect with each other,” Bentson said. Bentson says that Launched in Lynchburg is a resource for budding entrepreneurs and veterans alike.
“A lot of times when you’re starting a business, you’re so hyper-focused on what you’re doing, that it is not always easy to find that network.”
Jennifer Woofter, President of Strategic Sustainability Consulting, was a facilitator in the Co.Starters program and now uses Launched in Lynchburg as a platform to share her expertise and glean some from others.
“Having a group of local experts and colleagues to rely on for questions and support has made me feel right at home in Lynchburg,” Woofter said.
According to Bentson, the site is not so much a way to advertise a particular service or business, but rather it serves to “educate and empower” businesses to assist each other. The resulting network helps to drive traffic to these different entrepreneurs.
The management of Launched in Lynchburg is up to Bentson and her staff members.
“Right now we are going to stay in our lane, continuing to flesh out the three sections that we have,” Bentson said.
However, a few hopes Bentson has for future Launched in Lynchburg developments include more social interaction, a possible webinar series and real world meetups.
“Starting a business is both exciting and terrifying. Initiatives like Launched in Lynchburg provide technical advice but also a feeling of community,” Woofter said. “Having a place to go to connect with peers is a tremendous resource.”
Aerial Photography Services for the Region
In terms of aerial photography, 323 Unmanned Flight Services (UFS) has it covered from great heights with a professional and comprehensive staff of pilots, photographers, videographers and video editors. From marketing videos and special events, to weddings and news events, plus everything in between, 323 UFS offers aerial photography and videography services to capture what is needed in the highest quality. Founded in 2015 by owner and chief pilot Ben Clark, 323 UFS is a relative newcomer to the up-and-coming drone industry in the greater Lynchburg and surrounding regions. Fully insured and Part 107 licensed, 323 UFS operates the most technologically advanced equipment and conducts all flight operations in a two-person flight crew to maximize safety and achieve the greatest results.
Bedford-based Redco Machine Plans Expansion
Redco Machine, Inc., one of the region’s premier manufacturers of precision parts and assemblies, will expand its business in the Town of Bedford, adding up to six new jobs within three years and investing more than $600,000 in new equipment and facility upgrades.
A stable business in Bedford since it opened in 1974, Redco Machine, Inc. manufactures precision, machined components and assemblies for many of the world’s dynamic civilian and government-aligned customers in defense, automotive, nuclear energy, oil and natural gas, medicine and aerospace industries.
This expansion includes adding more than $200,000 in new equipment and 5,000 square feet of new operational space in Phase 1, with a long-term plan to add 5,000 more square feet and additional equipment in Phase 2.
“We do our part to keep a competitive edge in the business,” explains Troy “Randy” Deeter, owner. “Our employees have an average of 25 years of experience in their areas of expertise and that helps us to meet the highest quality standards in the industries we serve. This expansion will build upon that competitive edge.”
The company currently employs 28 in Bedford County. As a result of this expansion, Redco has job openings in quality control, CNC lathe and CNC mill programming, and Prototrak machining. The Bedford County Economic Development Authority will assist Redco with a cash incentive tied to continued job and investment growth in Bedford. The company plans to break ground this fall.
Woods Rogers PLC, Edmunds & Williams P.C. Merge
Enhancing legal services for clients in Virginia and beyond, the law firms of Woods Rogers PLC and Edmunds & Williams P.C. announced they will join forces in Lynchburg effective October 1, 2016.
“The merger of Woods Rogers and Edmunds & Williams is a natural fit for both firms,” said Woods Rogers’ President Dan Summerlin. “Edmunds & Williams—the largest firm in Lynchburg—is known and respected for delivering exceptional service to their clients.”
Summerlin added, “This merger provides the opportunity for our attorneys collectively to bring enhanced skills, expertise and value to all of our clients. Lynchburg is a significant and growing market strategically located between Woods Rogers’ offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Danville and Richmond.
On October 1, with the addition of Edmunds & Williams, Woods Rogers will have 78 attorneys in five Virginia offices.”
Edmunds & Williams Managing Partner Rick Sorenson said, “This merger allows us to efficiently provide greater services to our existing clients while working side by side with the like-minded Woods Rogers attorneys. The combined firm will also offer us the chance to grow and gain access to a broad spectrum of businesses in Virginia, the mid-Atlantic and beyond.”
The firm will operate as Woods Rogers Edmunds & Williams PLC in Lynchburg; it will remain as Woods Rogers PLC in other markets. The largest practice groups in the combined firm will be Banking and Corporate, Labor and Employment, Health Care, Litigation and Tax and Estates. Both Summerlin and Sorenson added, “The synergies of the two firms align closely. Together, we are motivated to grow and broaden legal capabilities and to strengthen client relationships for years to come, all the while delivering focused, effective service.”
New Facility Opens
Johnson Health Center (JHC) purchased a new facility located at 2402 Atherholt Road, Lynchburg. The new JHC facility was formerly the home of Piedmont Eye Center and will open as a Women and Children’s Health Center of Excellence in early 2017 after necessary renovations. The site was chosen due to its size, allowing for much needed room for growth and its ease of access for patients from the surrounding communities. JHC plans to relocate most of its pediatric and OB/Gyn services to the new facility, which will allow for coordinated care for women and children, and comprehensive women’s services as well as prenatal care with delivery at Virginia Baptist Hospital. The facility location is less than two miles from the current JHC Pediatric OB/Gyn center on Federal Street and remains on GLTC’s bus line. JHC is a non-profit federally qualified health center with seven locations in the region.
Favored Flavors Offers Tasty Selections
Since opening a year ago this November, Favored Flavors Tasting Shop & Little Bistro is continuing to offer a variety of high quality flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars on Main Street in Lynchburg. The storefront is owned and operated by Christina and Jason Long, who wanted to bring the tasting room experience to the Hill City.
“Since opening, our lives have been a whirlwind of learning curves and excitement,” Christina said. “Neither of us had previously owned a business prior to [this].” For more information and story hours visit them at www.favoredflavorsllc.com.
International Recognition for Lynchburg
The Department of Human Resources for Lynchburg City was recently awarded the 2016 International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) Small Agency Award for Excellence.
The recognition—coming from a professional association—makes it one of the best in the world. City Manager Bonnie Svrcek credits Margaret Schmitt, interim Deputy City Manager, with leading the department to success.
Bedford-based SE&M Wins New Contracts, Expands
Systems Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc. (SE&M), a Forest-based manufacturer of military equipment, conveyors, and specialized engineering and project management services, will expand its business, adding 10 new jobs and investing more than $700,000 in new equipment over the next three years. This expansion supports several major contracts the company signed in September to design and build components for military and private-sector customers.
SE&M is headquartered at its 31,000-square-foot facility on Perrowville Road in Forest.
It started in 2000 with just four employees and has since grown to more than 30 full-time employees and a full-service fabrication and engineering shop. Contracts are with the automotive, consumer products, cosmetics, food and beverage, industrial parts handling, military and pharmaceutical industries. This expansion includes adding new equipment and 10 employees in fabrication and welding over the next several years. The Bedford County Economic Development Authority will assist SE&M with a cash incentive tied to job and investment growth in Bedford County.
Outreach Support for the Academy
While the Academy Center of the Arts has focused many efforts in recent years on its capital campaign, fundraising for regular community outreach and impact is critical to the mission of the organization. Such efforts have been recently supported through gifts of $5,000 from the Wells Fargo Foundation, $23,800 from Virginia Commission for the Arts and $15,000 from the Genworth Foundation.
These contributions support Academy programming such as this summer’s collaboration with the YMCA’s annual Summer Learning Loss Prevention program, which provided 150 children with free arts classes and six-weeks of literacy-based education for low-income children who are just below grade level reading.
The Academy’s Community Outreach Initiative strives to bring the arts and its benefits to the underserved population present in our community. “These generous contributions not only support the Academy’s current outreach programs but also allow the Academy to explore new outreach opportunities with our partners to make the arts more accessible in Central Virginia,” said Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director.
“In less than a year I have already seen great progress from the Academy in reaching the underserved populations in our community,” said Evan Smith, Director of Community Outreach. “We’re seeing faces that have never been to the Academy before, and we are continuing our work to ensure that we build lasting relationships that lead to continued arts immersion.”