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  • Writer's pictureAnika Horn

The importance of landlords for local businesses: Field notes from the ecosystem

What the Ecosystem team has been up to

Snow days may have made for a slower start to the year than we had wished but it didn’t stop our Ecosystem Team, Anika and Nick, from getting out in the community to chat with entrepreneurs and accomplices about what is working and what isn’t.

In January, the Ecosystem team

  • Discussed what support for Black Business owners in Staunton might look like

  • Facilitated a Small Business Breakfast in Mt Jackson

  • Attended Caffeinate/Innovate at The Perch in Harrisonburg

  • Connected with 10+ entrepreneurs around the Valley!

What We Heard in the Ecosystem

Some of the central issues that came up during the Small Business Breakfast in Mount Jackson, co-hosted with Capture Management Expert, were:

  • Business Development: Where are your customers and how do you reach them? (see more below)

  • The difficulty in identifying what licenses people need for different businesses

  • A need for better consumer education on the impact of small businesses on our local economy and community (shopping small and local helps our communities thrive!)

Engaging Property Owners

Opening a physical storefront poses significant challenges, especially when facing a landlord who is unresponsive or unwilling to address issues within the property and limited financial resources. This predicament is a common concern voiced by entrepreneurs across the Valley. Recently, Nick encountered a particularly frustrating case where an entrepreneur was unable to begin operations due to unresolved electrical issues in the rented space, despite diligently paying rent. The entrepreneur's mounting frustration underscores the importance of landlords fulfilling their obligations promptly to facilitate business openings as agreed upon.

The vitality of our main streets hinges on the collaboration between property owners and local communities. Engaging property owners to keep our main streets alive is an ongoing topic of conversation for many of our communities. And the Valley is not alone. In his recent commentary, Wyatt Gordon delves into the diverse strategies employed by various Virginia cities to combat blight and breathe new life into their urban cores, offering valuable insights for community revitalization efforts, read it here.

We continue working on this issue with different community stakeholders. If you have insights or experiences that could contribute to enhancing landlord engagement and revitalizing our communities, we encourage you to connect with Anika to explore collaboration opportunities further. Together, we can nurture vibrant, thriving neighborhoods that reflect the spirit and resilience of our communities.

What’s on our radar

  • February 29th: Join entrepreneur and tech enthusiast Peter Denbigh for an AI lunch and learn workshop at the Staunton Innovation Hub: Unleashing ChatGPT for Your Business.

  • March 5th: SCCF is hosting women entrepreneur meetups to make more space for female and non-binary entrepreneurs to learn from each other and be in community. Our series kicks off with Coty Lyle and Holly Hilmann who will be sharing their story about opening a brick-and-mortar baby boutique in downtown Staunton. 

  • March 21st: If you are keen on seeing entrepreneurs in the Valley thrive, join us for the next convening of our regional coalition of entrepreneurship supporters in Harrisonburg! 

  • April 2nd: Save the date for our second marketing session for small business owners in the Valley! These content-rich events take place every other month to meet entrepreneurs where they’re at when it comes to identifying their ideal customers and marketing to them effectively.


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