Thompson Charitable Foundation
In July 2017, the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board was awarded grant funding from the Thompson Charitable Foundation for two new programs: The Small Business Expansion Empowerment (S-BEE) Initiative and the LETS Train (Living Expenses while Training Stipend) Initiative.
Small Business Expansion Empowerment (S-BEE) Initiative
Funded by a 3-year, $300,000 grant from the Thompson Charitable Foundation, the S-BEE Initiative will provide technical assistance and training opportunities to small businesses in Buchanan County and Tazewell County, areas that have been negatively impacted by the downturn in the coal economy.
The goal is to help these businesses improve processes, reduce costs, increase sales, and help create expansion opportunities.
The S-BEE Initiative will focus on 4 areas of training needs for small businesses (50 employees or less):
2. Social media marketing
3. Accounting practices
4. Lean Six Sigma training
Note: In July 2017 Virginia Community Capital (VCC) was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Thompson Charitable Foundation to help small business owners expand and diversify markets in Buchanan and Tazewell Counties. VCC will sponsor small business workshops, provide free technical advisory services, and hold 4 small business challenges over a 2-year period. VCC and SWVAWDB have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and will partner on these grants, working cooperatively and collaboratively for the first time together.
LETS Train (Living Expenses while Training Stipend) Initiative
Funded by a 2-year, $100,000 grant from the Thompson Charitable Foundation, the LETS Train Initiative will provide living expenses in the form of a monthly stipend to dislocated coal industry workers in Buchanan and Tazewell Counties who have embarked on a training program. Laid-off coal industry workers often cite their “need to work” as a major reason for not enrolling in intermediate-term training because it often exceeds the length of time they may draw unemployment insurance benefits. In Virginia, the maximum number of weeks that a claimant may draw benefits is 26 weeks. Many training programs that involve an industry-recognized credential, on the other hand, may take as long as a year (example: a career studies certificate earned at one of the community colleges). Ironically, the lengthier training programs are those that will prepare laid-off coal industry workers for the higher paying jobs more comparable to those that they have lost.
The LETS Train Initiative will provide $1,200 per month as a minimum subsistence payment that would cover rent/mortgage and utilities for up to 5 months while in training. Eligible applicants must have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits and applied for any available social services assistance, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Fuel Assistance. Participants would also participate in SWVAWDB’s Financial Empowerment Network to receive counseling and planning in budgeting, credit repair, and savings plans. Recipients of this monthly training stipend are not required to be participants in any of the WIOA programs.
For more information, contact:
Stephen Mullins, Small Business Coordinator
Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board – Area One
(276) 883-5038 (office)