Supporting local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Southwest Virginia, State Farm has awarded The Advancement Foundation in Vinton a $35,000 grant to help sustain and scale the Commonwealth’s largest business program and competition.
The Gauntlet, now in its 7th season, is inspiring business development, growth and innovation. During a time when it is needed most, State Farm and The Advancement Foundation say their organizations aim to increase business development to rebuild the local economy. The Gauntlet helps small business startups and current businesses develop new strategies for growth.
“State Farm is proud to provide funding for The Gauntlet through the Advancement Foundation,” said State Farm spokesperson Kate Beadle. “We’re committed to maintaining the vibrancy of our communities by assisting nonprofits that support small business development.”
With State Farms continued sponsorship, the GAUNTLET has helped over 500 entrepreneurs from across the region start or expand their business. In addition, The Gauntlet has engaged 250 community mentors and raised cash and in-kind awards totaling more than $1.2 million. Top winners can receive up to $30,000 in cash and in-kind support.
The GAUNTLET incorporates participants from Roanoke County, Roanoke City, Botetourt County, the Alleghany Highlands, and Rockbridge County. 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,” Annette Patterson, President of The Advancement Foundation said.
The GAUNTLET launched 70 businesses last May, amid a worldwide pandemic. The program moved completely virtual six weeks into the program. In 2021, a hybrid of virtual classes will connect entrepreneurs and mentors, industry experts and Gauntlet Alumni through the region’s largest business support network. The launch of multiple new platforms will make it easier than ever for the exchange of ideas, information and resources including the new Biz NATION platform which connects entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and resource agencies.