May 19, 2017

Martinsville, VA (May 19, 2017) Seven aspiring and current entrepreneurs in Martinsville-Henry County have completed the SmartSTART business planning program offered through Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Division.  There have been 147 graduates since the EDC began offering entrepreneurial certification ten years ago. 

Over an eight-week period, participants of the SmartSTART program considered the viability of their business idea and worked on creating a business plan. Each of the eight sessions explored a different topic related to business planning and execution. The program offered participants a chance to learn from business professionals and existing entrepreneurs who shared advice and experienced-based information on running a business. Participants worked individually to complete segments of their business plans such as executive summaries, marketing plans, competitive analyses and cash flow projections and were then critiqued by their coaches and classmates. During the final session, participants presented a summary of their business plans.

Graduates of the 2017 SmartSTART program are Lloyd France, Jr, Toni France, Kenya Gravely, Carrie Hairston, Rhonda Hopkins, Tammy Pearson and Erin Rakes.

Because most business plans evolve as the business grows, past graduates also audited or “dropped-in” to refresh their knowledge and to update their plans. To wrap up the 10th anniversary of offering the class, the EDC also had a business plan competition that was open to all of its graduates. Winners will be announced soon.

Business coaches for the 2017 session included Valerie Harper, (EDC Small Business Director), Beth Deatherage (HD Web Studios) and Carolyn Shough (retired banker), as well as several professionals who were guest speakers.