Economic leaders and entrepreneurs across the region have attracted the Commonwealth’s largest business program and competition, The GAUNTLET, to expand into their region. During a time when it is needed most, The Advancement Foundation aims to increase business development to rebuild our local economy by helping small business startups, as well as helping current businesses to develop new strategies for growth.
“Small businesses truly are the backbone of our economy. During the past year, we have seen record high unemployment rates and an alarming number of businesses closing. Together, we can turn this around by leveraging our community assets, shortening the learning curve for business owners, connecting entrepreneurs to knowledgeable business strategists, and providing needed resources to implement innovative strategies for growth. The GAUNTLET is the platform by which we can bring the all the pieces of the puzzle together quickly, while building a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. This program and competition are more important now than ever.” says Annette Patterson, President of The Advancement Foundation.
The GAUNTLET has a proven track record of rallying entrepreneurs, business leaders, and communities to launch successful businesses. Now in its 7th season, the GAUNTLET Business Program has led more than 525 Gauntlet alumni, 250 community mentors, and raised cash and in-kind awards totaling more than $300,000 each year. The Advancement Foundation, a nonprofit, ignites local innovation and business development by collaborating with local business resource agencies to engineer opportunities that leverage existing resources while building awareness and support for business development. Top winners can receive up to $30,000 in cash and in-kind support. The GAUNTLET incorporates participants from the Roanoke Valley, Botetourt County, the Alleghany Highlands, and Rockbridge County. And NEW this year, the program and competition will expand to include Bedford County, Town of Bedford, Big Island, Chamblissburg, Coleman Falls, Forest, Goode, Goodview, Hardy, Huddleston, Moneta, Montvale, New London, and Thaxton.
“Our role in working with communities is to provide a framework, utilizing the GAUNTLET as a tool or an engine, so to speak, to build awareness, enthusiasm, and structure for everyone to find a role in support of local business development. It is this network of entrepreneurs, resource agencies, mentors, and community leaders that gives entrepreneurs confidence to step out,” Patterson said.
In addition to engineering opportunities for business development, The Advancement Foundation works to leverage unique resources such as community investment funds, low interest rural loan funds, in-kind support, and resources for underserved populations.
The GAUNTLET launched 70 businesses last May, amid a worldwide pandemic. The program moved to a completely virtual format six weeks into the program. This year, a hybrid of virtual and in person classes will be offered along with the launch of the new Biz NATION platform which connects entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and resource agencies.
A virtual Meet and Greet to learn more about the GAUNTLET Program will take place on December 15th at 6:00 pm -7:30 pm. Follow the event on Facebook for more details. https://www.facebook.com/events/5277887248891873
GAUNTLET Applications are NOW OPEN for the 7th Annual GAUNTLET Business Program and Competition. https://startupspace.app/dynamic-survey/MTQz
For more Information, interested entrepreneurs, mentors, sponsors, and community leaders can visit https://www.TheAdvancementFoundation.org/the-gauntlet
Media may contact Shannon at (540) 283-7062 or Innovation@TheAdvancementFoundation.org