First StartUps awarded

Published 11:13 am Friday, June 16, 2017

To open a restaurant, a meeting facility and a fitness center are the respective dreams of four people, and on Wednesday afternoon they received money to help those business plans become a reality.

The decision was announced in the Franklin Business Center before the people — and their supporters — who made their business pitches.

The chosen recipients: Wydia Bailey gets $10,000 for Franklin’s Seafood and Steakhouse; Lauren Davis and Mike Smith also got $10,000 for Main Event, a banquet and meeting site facility; and $20,000 to La’Kenneth Kindred for TaylorMade Fitness, all to be located in the Downtown district.

Bailey said afterward that she had begun to put together her plan 1 and ½ years ago. Davis had also spent over a year in working on her plan. Kindred said he had been thinking about an idea for a fitness center for 10 years, and began more actively working on it since May 2016.

Amanda Jarrett, the president of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., said the initiative has been designed to bring new businesses. The grant money comes from the Virginia Department of Housing Community Business Launch. Tory McGowan, Community Revitalization specialist at the agency was present to help present the money.

The funds are to be used on a reimbursement basis for operating expenses, renovations, equipment rental, utilities, inventory and marketing. Their businesses must open a storefront Downtown by Sept. 30, and all the money spent by Dec. 31.

Long before anyone could receive any checks, the candidates had to create a detailed plan, attend six business courses and make presentations to five judges.

“They had to have a lot of skin in the game,” Jarratt said. She added that those who applied but did get picked should “not leave discouraged.”

The aforementioned judges were Chuck Bradshaw, Angela Reddix and Cheryl Tan, who also own businesses, and Toni Johnson and Dr. Daniel Lufkin of Paul D. Camp Community College.

Sponsors were: Wells Fargo, FSEDI, Insercorp, Richwood Graphics, Real Country 101.7 and The Tidewater News.