River District

DANVILLE, Va. — The River District Association has awarded three new businesses a total of $50,000 to open or expand their brick-and-mortar businesses in the River District.

The River District Association Dream Launch Program is a multi-phase entrepreneur engagement program that consisted of a five-week entrepreneur boot camp that was free for anyone to attend. Participants that completed the entire series and wished to open a brick-and-mortar business in the downtown River District area were eligible to pitch for grant funding to help close the gap for needed resources to open their business in the next 12 months.

Dream Launch, now finishing the third year of the program, saw registration of more than 100 to attended the Dream Launch Boot-Camp classes; 26 participants finished all five classes, and five business plans were pitched to judges in the Dream Launch Grant Award Program in late March. 

The three businesses that were awarded 2021 RDA Dream Launch Pitch funding are:

The Dog-Eared Page Bookshop - Catherine Carter- $25,000

The Ramp Nutrition (2nd location) - Tia Macklin - $15,000

The Fashion Haus Studio – Kelly Cunningham - $10,000

“We are extremely excited to work with these businesses as they open or expand their operations in the River District in the coming months” said Diana Schwartz, director of the River District Association. “While the grant funds will go a long way to help us move these businesses forward, there are now several other new offerings in the pipeline. We had a tremendous response to the Dream Launch Bootcamp, and we expect to see several other businesses open their doors in the next six to 12 months throughout the region. The opportunity to give many people the knowledge to understand the journey to business ownership and self-sustainability is one of the most important parts of this program.”

Funding for the 2021 RDA Dream Launch program was made possible by the City of Danville and the Dan River Region Entrepreneur Ecosystem (funded by the Danville Regional Foundation).

Additional community partners in the RDA Dream Launch initiative include the Longwood Small Business Development Center, The Launch Place. and Danville Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce among several others.  This collaboration also opened an additional opportunity for Dream Launch Boot-Camp finishers to participate in a newly formed pitch opportunity; those that wish to locate a business outside the district were eligible to participate in the Danville/Pittsylvania Rev-Up Pitch.

This program would not be possible without the time, expertise, and support from all these entities and many more instructors, judges and local entrepreneurs that volunteer their time and talent.

"RDA is very grateful to our volunteers, funders, and participants for their continued support of Dream Launch; it is a joy to be able to give people the information, tools, and funds they need to start their own business,” said Schwartz, “We take the name of the program very seriously – we really do want to help people launch their dreams of entrepreneurship and provide a path to creating opportunity and wealth for themselves and their families while adding to the quality of life for those in the region.”

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