A commercial cleaning company, a plant store with a cafe and a waste management company — all operating in Richmond’s East End — are among a total of 10 small businesses that have awarded grants totaling $125,000.
The 10 businesses received the funding through a program that seeks to spark entrepreneurship and job creation along the 25th Street and Nine Mile Road corridor.
The companies were recipients of this year’s Supporting East End Entrepreneurship Development, or SEED grants. The announcement was made Wednesday.
Health care provider Bon Secours and community development organization Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC, created the grant program in 2011 as an economic development and job creation initiative for Richmond’s East End.
Capital One Financial Corp. and the local Retail Merchants organization have partnered with Bon Secours and LISC for this year’s awards. Capital One joined Bon Secours in providing the funds for the grants, while Retail Merchants joined as fund administrator in partnership with LISC.
Since 2011, grants totaling $639,500 have been awarded to 38 businesses in the city’s East End. Bon Secours has contributed $569,500 toward the small-business grants, and since 2016, Capital One has donated $70,000.
“The SEED program is an important community initiative for Bon Secours,” said Faraaz Yousuf, president of Bon Secours Richmond. “For eight years, this program has been a catalyst for a new vibrancy in the East End. We are thrilled to see new faces this year, as well as returning entrepreneurs, all of whom have decided to make a difference in their community.”
A panel of six judges selected the grant winners.
Unlike in year’s past, organizers did not disclose the financial amounts of each grant to companies.
Three of the businesses are first-time award recipients while the remaining seven have received grants at some point since 2011. This year’s new recipients are:
- Glean, a commercial cleaning company that provides an average hourly wage that is 30% higher than local competitors. Owner Nicole Mason will use the grant funds for transition from contractors to on-staff employees and for recruitment efforts.
- Pomona, a plant and gift shop with a cafe at 2025 Venable St. Owners Melissa and Frayser Micou will use the grant funds to adapt its business with pandemic spatial and health modifications and marketing.
- Walnut Alley, which provides waste management services for restaurants, apartments, landlords and parking lots. The grant funds will be used by owner Michael Wynn for marketing and promotional materials.
The seven recipients that have received grants in the past and are receiving additional funds this year are:
- BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness, a yoga studio providing individual and group classes, educational workshops and yoga therapy. Owner Ashley Williams will use the grant funds to support business operations and expansion.
- C. Alexander’s Cleaners, an eco-friendly dry cleaners, laundry and alterations business at 2007 Venable St. Owner Marian Fields will use the grant funds to purchase new equipment.
- Carolina Bar B Que, a longtime Church Hill neighborhood restaurant on Nile Mile Road providing home-cooked style meals. Owner Alisha Hawkins will use the grant funds for exterior signage and marketing.
- EZ Body & Auto Repair Service, a woman-owned auto repair shop. The grant funds will be used by owner Charlene Spencer-Taylor for system updates and machinery.
- Favour Cookie Co., a startup business offering vegan and gluten-free cookie dough. The grant funds will be used by owner Sequoia Ross for marketing and promotional materials.
- Jade Salon, a multicultural full-service hair care salon. Owner Jadia Cureton will use the grant funds for training and software implementation.
- Soul N’ Vinegar, a neighborhood food store in Church Hill selling prepared foods and packaged meals and a cafe inside of the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art. Owner Michelle Parish will use the grant funds to refocus its community catering business to enable ready-to-eat takeaway meals.