Launch Gloucester 2.0 to include classes, expansion and start-up capital.

The Background:

In 2015, the Main Street Preservation Trust was awarded $100,000 as part of the Governor’s pilot program, Community Business Launch, which was awarded to three communities in Virginia to hold a business plan competition and offer start-up capital and services to winners to spur new business development in their respective downtowns. Gloucester’s program was very successful, awarding and opening four new businesses from the program (Sweet Tooth Café, The Nines Pet Boutique, The Village Blacksmith and Good Life Kitchen) and seeing another business open and one expand from the class cohort (Heartfelt Touch Massage and Twice as Nice Consignment Boutique – closed this second location in December).

One of the requirements of the program was to report stats on these businesses such as job creation/loss and investment numbers but the MSPT wished to offer further support and made available to these businesses free business consultation by Margie Johnson with Shop Talk, Inc. since 2015.

Launch 2.0:

For 2018, the Main Street Preservation Trust, building on the success of the initial program, will be partnering with Retail Alliance to offer a Retail Operations Certificate class in February 2018 – September 2018 (first cohort) for the purpose of a more intensive educational approach to assist current business owners in developing expansion plans and for potential new entrepreneurs to vet new business plans for the purpose of locating on Main Street in the Gloucester Village. The class, offered and taught by Retail Alliance is an eight month course delving deeply into subjects on successfully developing and running a business.

The seven pillars covered in the course are: Start-Up, Accounting, Marketing, Merchandising, Human Resources, Theft Prevention and Loss, and Business Planning.

The cost of the program, which is open to anyone wishing to expand or start a business in Gloucester, is just under $1,000.

For businesses located on Main Street wishing to expand or new business entrepreneurs planning on opening on Main Street, the MSPT is offering scholarships of $500 paid at the completion of the course. The MSPT has set aside five scholarships for 2018 and they are on a first come first reserved basis.

Any business owner on Main Street that wishes to hone their skills in business is encouraged to apply and you don’t have to be planning an expansion or opening a new business in order to receive a scholarship ($500).

“We are so grateful that Retail Alliance is willing to offer these classes locally right here in Gloucester,” said MSPT Executive Director Jenny Crittenden. “The MSPT is a member of Retail Alliance and the class partnership has been a year in the planning. We are very excited to be able to offer this educational opportunity, to see the outcomes of expansions, new business and overall increasing knowledge on Main Street for those who participate.”

A second cohort of classes are also currently being offered in Norfolk.

The exciting news is that for existing business owners on Main Street that satisfactorily complete the classes in 2018 and expand within six months of completing the certificate, they may apply for expansion funding for up to $5,000.

For new entrepreneurs to Main Street or for existing Main Street entrepreneurs that wish to start a second business, they may apply for start- up capital for up to $15,000. The concept must be filling an identified market need based on the Trust’s most recent market study or be able to provide statistics and trend study to substantiate a concept not yet identified. The MSPT is also happy to assist with market info as needed. The Retail Operations certificate must be complete and the business must open within 6 months of the completion of the classes.

The MSPT is introducing Launch Gloucester 2.0 as a pilot program and as such there are limited funds for this program for 2018. Funding applications are approved on a first come first approved basis with funds being held 6 months upon completion of the classes, giving time for the expansion and new businesses to open. Classes must be taken and completed with 2018.

To learn more about the program or to apply, please contact Jenny Crittenden at or 804-824-9614. Download the application for grant funding here.

To learn more about Retail Alliance and its member benefits, go to

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