VINTON, Va. – This year is crucial for small businesses looking to rebound from 2020′s rollercoaster economy. 10 News is working for you to help rebuild our local economy by sponsoring Virginia’s largest business competition, the Gauntlet. Started by the Advancement Foundation in Vinton, the Gauntlet helps entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses. The Gauntlet launched 70 businesses last May, amid the pandemic.
If you have an idea for a business, or already have one that you’re looking to expand, Annette Patterson, president of The Advancement Foundation, said this is the perfect opportunity.
“The community part of the Gauntlet, which is wonderful in any given year, is even more powerful now because we need each other. We need to support each other and help each other advance. That part is going to be transformational for people for people who have ideas or thoughts about starting a business,” Patterson said.
There is still time to sign up for the program. Virtual classes begin on February 9. The Gauntlet provides a 10-week program that helps entrepreneurs create a business plan. Finalists in the program will be decided based on those business plans and will pitch their idea in front of a panel of judges.
The Gauntlet has engaged 250 community mentors and raised cash and in-kind awards totaling more than $1.2 million since its inception 7 years ago. 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.