Main Street organizations, microlenders, small business development centers, neighborhood associations, women’s business centers…. There are many voices in the State of Virginia that work towards more vibrant local economies, but which don’t aways find a unified voice for the importance of community-scaled and place-based economic development.
Working as one of two consultants for a Virginia Community Capital initiative to catalyze such a network, my involvement in the formation of the Virginia Community Economic Network was one of early visioning, facilitating conversations among both local and state leaders, and drafting their initial business plan.
Today, the Virginia Community Economic Network (VCEN) is a consortium of public & private sector organizations working to advance and support small business and entrepreneurship-based approaches to community & economic development. VCEN has a broad array of partners who seek to demonstrate the collective impact of community economic development initiatives, to build greater awareness of innovative and successful practices, to foster value-added collaborations and networking among key stakeholders, and to reduce the information gaps that prevent entrepreneurs and small businesses from accessing the resources available to help them.