June 1, 2017


Small Businesses Win Grants from EDC

~$15,000 awarded to help start or grow ventures~

Martinsville, VA (June 1, 2017) The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Division is pleased to announce the winners of their SmartSTART Business Plan Competition.

The Competition winners include:

  • Allure Images – Owner Erin Rakes plans to open the full-service photography studio in Ridgeway in June. Her specialties are newborn and child photography, but she will also service other types and events. Her award is for technology equipment.
  • CrossFit 276 – Opened in 2014 in Uptown Martinsville, this fitness center was awarded equipment to accommodate its growing membership. Marcus Hairston, Jerelle Carter and LaDonna Hairston are the owners.
  • Gotcha Covered Linens & Party Rentals – David and Rebecca Watson will use their award to expand their rental product lines to include table rentals. This addition will complement some of the products they already rent out, including fine linens, chinaware, popcorn machines, grills, tuxedos and other party items used for special events. The business is located in Collinsville.
  • Infinity Dancewear – With at least 6 dance studios in Martinsville-Henry County, Infinity Dancewear opened in 2016 in Uptown Martinsville to provide a much-needed service to local dance students. Owner Stacey Davis will use this award to address gymnastics and cheer requests.
  • Jr’s Music & More – Owner Lloyd France, Jr. is continuing his personal and professional passion for music by way of his store in Collinsville. The store currently offers band rentals, guitars, drums, keyboards, sound amplification and accessories. They also offer music lessons and guitar repair. Their award will go towards inventory.
  • Rising Sun Breads – A member of the very first SmartSTART class in 2007, Darla Main-Schneider continues to look for new ways to grow her full service bakery in the Druid Hills neighborhood of the City. She will use her award to package her newest product line of ready-made (Pick-up and Go) dinners.
  • Shindig Catering & Events – The food and entertainment industry is not new to graduate Tammy Pearson and her husband Will. In addition to being our area’s newest catering option, the couple are also renovating their 1920’s era building in Uptown Martinsville to offer a venue for meetings and special occasions. Their award will help with the purchase of kitchen equipment.
  • Village Landings – This assisted living facility provides housing, meals, personal care assistance, socialization activities, transportation and other support services for adult clients. Owner Latasha Palmer will use the award for employee CPR training and a computer purchase. The facility is in the Horsepasture area of the County.

A total of $15,000 was awarded in all. The Competition was open to any business owner that graduated from the 8-week SmartSTART or FastTrac program that the EDC has hosted over the past 10 years. There have been 147 graduates. The annual program took participants through all the facets of creating a plan for their business venture. Business coaches were available at each class and professionals (lawyers, accountants, marketing specialists, insurance agents, bankers, etc.) also offered their expertise.

“We were extremely pleased with all of the plans that were submitted and pitched. We gave quite a few grants but feel that each of these awards will have an impact on their business,” said Valerie Harper, EDC Small Business Director. “The EDC and SmartSTART coaches are proud to have been a part of most of these businesses from their beginnings, so it is heartwarming to see them mature into great established businesses and contribute to Martinsville and Henry County’s growth.”

The mission of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation is to create new job opportunities and expand the tax base for the area.  The organization strives to support and develop local industry, as well as market Martinsville-Henry County globally as an exceptional place to live, work and play.

The EDC is a public-private partnership between the City of Martinsville, Henry County, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG) and the Harvest Foundation of the Piedmont.