Small Business Entrepreneurship Support Program

Small Business Entrepreneurship Support Program Guidelines

Adopted: 6/6/2019 (Revised: 11/7/2019)

Complete Online Application Here
Deadline 4/1/20

Program Objective and Description

The Small Business Entrepreneurship Support (SBES) Program is a new project of the
Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s (TRRC) Business Support Committee
(BSC). For the last several years, the Commission has partnered with the GENEDGE
organization to provide Commission-funded enterprises an opportunity to work through
a process to accelerate the development of a grant recipient’s path towards
commercialization. GENEDGE is the Commonwealth’s premier business consulting
organization that provides Virginia’s industrial and manufacturing sectors access to
expert business solutions. In partnership with GENEDGE consultants, members of the
BSC lend their expertise and experience to Commission-funded enterprises in an effort
to ensure their success.

The objective of the SBES program is to provide a limited number of eligible small
businesses within Virginia’s Tobacco Region with access to GENEDGE business
consulting services as well as Commission mentorship to help advance the business’
path to commercialization and ultimately its ability to bring new capital and jobs into
Virginia’s Tobacco Region.

Conducting a fall and winter application round, with funding decisions at the
Commission’s spring meeting, five (5) program participants will be selected
after an initial application evaluation process (by TRRC staff) that ranks the
top ten (10) applicants that best meet the program’s objectives. Applicants will be
evaluated based upon the business’ potential impact to the Virginia’s Tobacco Region
and the Applicant’s business feasibility. After the initial staff review, the finalists will
compete in a “pitch” presentation to the TRRC Business Support Committee during one
of that Committee’s regular public meetings. Each finalist will have 15 minutes to “pitch”
their business to the BSC and then the committee will select five (5) companies for
inclusion in the program for that application round.

Regional Distribution of Awards

TRRC staff will attempt to select applicants for the “pitch” meeting that are
representative of the general population distribution of the entire Tobacco Region.

Program Process

The BSC, with assistance by TRRC staff, will conduct a competitive and confidential
application process in the summer and fall, whereby eligible small business applicants
will submit an online applications on the Commission’s website.

At the close of the application period, TRRC staff will review the submitted
applications for completeness and eligibility. TRRC staff will then review and score the
business plan to select the top ten (10) applicants (the Finalists) that best meet the
goals of the program. TRRC staff will then provide the BSC with copies of the Finalists
business plan summaries and the initial staff recommendations to review in preparation
for “pitch” presentation from each of the Finalists.

The Finalists will have an opportunity for a short 15 minute presentation to and interview
by the Commission’s Business Support Committee in a public meeting setting.
The Finalists will provide a “pitch” presentation of their business plan and be available to
answer questions from the committee and staff. The BSC will then select five (5)
awardees who will enter the program for that application round.

Once selected, in addition to being able to go through the GENEDGE process at
TRRC’s expense, the applicant will then be able to have a mentor-mentee relationship
with an assigned commissioner from the BSC permitting the business owner to get
ongoing informal advice.   Prior to being awarded any of these benefits from the
Commission, each applicant would be required to sign a liability release waiver (Example Waiver) that
would cover the period (about 6-12 months) in which each applicant would work with the
Commission and GENEDGE. The liability release waiver would clarify that while
GENEDGE and the BSC members would give the best advice they can, neither party is
responsible for the success or failure of any specific business.

Eligibility & Evaluation Criteria

The Commission is interested providing this opportunity to businesses within the
Commission’s footprint that have grown past the initial “start-up” stage but have not yet
grown to maturity. In addition, the small business should have a focus on producing a
new product or service within a traded economic sector or a new technology that can
support the growth of products within the traded sector. The ultimate goal for the
business should be to bring new jobs and outside capital into Virginia’s Tobacco
Region. Applicants that do not fully meet eligibility criteria shall not be further evaluated
by the Commission.

Applicants that are either ineligible or not ultimately selected, shall not be restricted from
applying for future application rounds if they may occur. Applicant’s that are selected
into the program shall not be eligible for future rounds of the program.

Successful program participants will not receive any grant funding. Awards will
be in the form of an individual GENEDGE business assessment, mentorship
experience with a member of the Business Support Committee, and media
exposure upon the successful completion of the program.

Eligibility Criteria (Revised 11/4/19)

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following 2 program criteria:

  • Business Location – Located (or willing to relocate) within the Virginia’s Tobacco
  • Traded Economic Sector Product, Service or Technology – Producing or
    manufacturing a new product within a traded economic sector OR developing a
    new technology or service that supports the growth of products or manufacturing
    within a traded sector – i.e. export of products or services).Applicants must also meet at least of the following criteria:
  • Time in Business – Have been in business for not more than 60 months (5
  • # of Employees – Currently employ 20 or fewer employees.
    – i.e. a small number of employees, but enough to begin stretching the
    comfortable control span of one or two owners.
  • Business Revenue – No more than $1 million dollars in total annual receipts.
    – i.e. small businesses that are realizing revenue, but not yet fully into the next
    stage of maturity.

Application Evaluation

Once an applicant has been found to be eligible, TRRC staff shall review the
applications and select the top ten (10) applicants (the Finalists). The applications shall
be evaluated based on the business’ impact on the Commission’s overall footprint as
well its general business feasibility as evidenced by:

  • its strong management team,
  • size of the market opportunity,
  • sales and marketing strategy,
  • the business model used,
  • strength of intellectual property owned by the company,
  • its capital requirements,
  • its customer analysis, and
  • the company’s stage of development.

If requested by the Applicant (See Section IV of the Application) no specific details of
any business plan or other proprietary business information will be made public.

The ten (10) Finalists shall be provided the opportunity to “pitch” their business to the
Business Support Committee via a short 15 minute presentation (i.e. pitch) in a public
committee meeting. After the presentations, the BSC will determine the top five (5)
Finalists that best meet the program goals and objectives and they will be offered an
opportunity to participate in the program.

Among other relevant considerations, the committee may consider the following criteria
when selecting the small businesses to work with:

  • A description of their product or service,
  • value proposition,
  • size of the market,
  • competitive advantage (IP),
  • sales and marketing strategy,
  • financial analysis and revenue model,
  • direct jobs creation,
  • secondary impact on the area (how the company uses other resources and their
    fit in the region), and
  • the pitch presentation itself.

Program Budget and Value of Awards

In June 2019 the Commission adopted its FY2020 budget. The SBES program is a
pilot program for FY 2020. Funding up to the amount of $50,000 will be utilized for the
program from the Commission’s administrative budget. If successful and demand exists,
the Commission will consider extending the program past a pilot and create a separate
line item for it in the Business Support Committee annual budget. The number of
awards shall be subject to the quality and quantity of proposals received and other
applicable considerations.

Successful program participants will not receive any grant funding. Awards will
be in the form of an individual GENEDGE business assessment, mentorship
experience with a member of the Business Support Committee, and media
exposure upon the successful completion of the program.

Application Deadlines

The fall application period opened November 1st, 2019 and remains open through
April 1st, 2020.

The Commission will select five (5) program participants at their winter meeting in Richmond (January 6-7 2020).

Complete Online Application Here

Start Date

It is anticipated that the Commission will make final funding decisions at its meeting in
May 2020. The GENEDGE assessment period would start no earlier than May 2020 and will
run approximately 6-12 months.

Technical Assistance

For technical assistance, or to discuss please contact TRRC Deputy Director, Andy
Sorrell at 804-894-9653 or by email at

Complete Online Application Here